There are over 275 organizations that support federal legislation that would end the preventative use of antibiotics in agriculture. Factory farms routinely pump their animals full of antibiotics in an attempt to counteract their overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. This abuse has contributed to the current situation of more and more antibiotic-resistant disease strains. Limiting the use of antibiotics for when they're really needed would make both human and animal medicine more effective.
Yet the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposes the legislation. They claim that the human health concern is theoretical, despite the fact that dozens of human health organizations endorse this act, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Associatio of County and City Health Departments, and others.
The AVMA also claims that reducing the use of antibiotics would result in more food-borne illness, ignoring the fact that most food-borne disease is a result of inhumane factory farm conditions. We don't need more antibiotics -- we need better treatment of farm animals.
The Humane Society of the United States, American Society for the Preventation of Cruelty to Animals, Farm Sanctuary, Animal Welfare Institute, Humane Farming Association, and National Anti-Vivisection Society all support PAMTA. Ask the AVMA to get on board and stand up for their mission to improve animal and human health.
Photo credit: Farm Sanctuary
In Dr. Lyle Vogel's testimony regarding the proposed legislation, he questioned whether there was enough evidence of the impact of agricultural antibiotic use on human health. He also insisted that banning therapeutic use of antibiotics would negatively impact animal health and welfare, as well as introducing a greater risk of food-borne illnesses.
There have been hundreds of studies documenting the link between antibiotic use in animals and human health. These studies have been summarized by a panel of experts convened by the Alliance for Prudent Use of Antibiotics, an independent scientific organization. On May 9, 2002, APUA released the panel’s report, which summarizes their 18-month review of more than 500 published studies on antibiotics and animal agriculture. (The entire report is also published as a special issue of the peer-reviewed medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases dated June 1, 2002.)
In 2003, the U.S. Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Science stated that decreasing "antimicrobial use in human medicine alone will have little effect on the current [antibiotic-resistant] situation" and that "substantial efforts must be made to decrease inappropriate overuse [of antibiotics] in animals and agriculture."
An estimated 70 percent of antibiotics used annually in the U.S. are routinely given to poultry, beef cattle, and swine in their feed, not to treat diagnosed disease, but to promote faster growth and for routine disease prevention (i.e. to compensate for the heightened risk of infection in raising animals under confined, often unhygienic
conditions). Many such feed antibiotics are identical or very nearly so to human medicines, including penicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin and sulfa drugs. While banning unnecessary administration of antibiotics in animals wouldn't resolve the antibiotic-resistant situation by itself, it is an important piece of the problem.
In regards to animal health and welfare and food-borne illnesses, the indiscriminate use of antibiotics only perpetuates the conditions that create these problems. Factory farms use antibiotics to try to compensate for the unsanitary conditions where they keep the animals. By opposing this legislation, you are, in effect, endorsing confined animal feeding operations.
Preserving the use of antibiotics will make them more effective in treating humans and animals. I urge you to stand behind your mission to improve animal and human health, and to join the other animal welfare organizations (including Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute, Farm Sanctuary, and others in supporting H.R.1549/S. 619.
Thank you for your consideration.