As agriculturalists, we know that antibiotics have been used for over 40 years to keep our nation's food supply safe and that of the antibiotics that are currently utilized in industry, 95% are for therapeutic control of disease. Legislation similar to this has been instituted in Denmark and these are some consequences from that implementation:
- The proposed legislation seeks to eliminate the "non-therapeutic" use of antibiotic drugs considered important for human health.
- The intent of the legislation is to decrease the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans.
- The bill purports to preserve the effectiveness of medically important antibiotics used in the treatment of human and animal diseases by withdrawing antibiotics for 'non-therapeutic' purposes in food-producing animals unless they can be proven to pose no harm to human health.
- The bill defines critical antimicrobial animal drugs as those intended for use in food-producing animals and are composed wholly or partly of any kind of penicillin, tetracycline, macrolide, lincosamide, streptogramin, aminoglycoside, or sulfonamide, or any other drug or derivative of a drug that is used in humans or intended for use in humans to treat or prevent disease or infection caused by microorganisms.
- The bill defines 'non-therapeutic use', with respect to a critical antimicrobial animal drug, as use of a drug as a feed or water additive for an animal in the absence of any clinical sign of disease in the animal for growth promotion, feed efficiency, weight gain, routine disease prevention, or other routine purpose.
Denmark, with a pork industry roughly equivalent to the size of the pork herd in Iowa, instituted a ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters (AGPs) in 2000 which has not reduced antibiotic resistance patterns in humans. The ban has, however, resulted in increased death and disease among animals, greater amounts of antibiotics used to treat and prevent disease, and little evidence to suggest that antibiotic resistance in humans has declined.
Labels: antibiotics, AVMA advocacy, food safety, livestock production, policy