To preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for treating sick people and animals, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has introduced the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act, which would phase out the routine non-therapeutic use of these drugs in farm animals. With antibiotics routinely laced into the feed and water to promote growth and to keep animals alive in unhealthy and inhumane conditions on industrial factory farms, animal agriculture accounts for more than 70 percent of total sales of medically important antibiotics in the United States.
Sen. Feinstein was joined by a bipartisan group of cosponsors—Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Jack Reed, D-R.I., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association praised the legislators for their action.
Michael Blackwell, DVM, MPH, an HSVMA Leadership Council member and former deputy director for the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said: “We commend Senator Feinstein and the cosponsors of this important legislation for working to rein in the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture. We cannot afford to continue the reckless practices that jeopardize the viability of these precious tools for human and animal health.”
More than 450 organizations (PDF) representing agricultural, health, environmental, animal protection, hunger, labor, religious and other concerns endorse federal legislation to phase out the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Additionally, 125 individual veterinary professionals have signed a petition sponsored by the HSVMA, which reads:
“We, the undersigned licensed veterinary professionals, support…federal legislation that would phase out the routine non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals. Antibiotic overuse is a common practice in animal agriculture to compensate for overcrowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions on factory farms. Profligate use of these drugs threatens to ruin the effectiveness of antibiotics for treating sick animals and people. As medical professionals, we support efforts to restrict such non-judicious uses of antibiotics in order to protect animal and human health.”
In March, Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., introduced similar legislation in the House, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), H.R. 1150.
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