The fight over the use of antibiotics in livestock practice is heating up with the introduction of a House bill this week by Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. The measure - called the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act - would require review of the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and the impact on human medical treatment.
The group Keeping Antibiotics Working applauds the move by Slaughter - the only microbiologist in the U.S. House - as a move to build on the Congressional decision last year to collected data as part of the Animal Drug Use Fee Act. The measure would also require antibiotic resistance research as a provision of the farm bill.
The livestock industry has long asserted the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics is not harmful to humans and notes there is no evidence of antibiotic resistance related to the practice. The KAW group disagrees pointing to a Union of Concerned Scientists report estimating that 70% of all antibiotics used each year in the U.S. are fed without prescription to livestock and poultry. KAW notes the rise of "superbugs" where antibiotic treatments have failed.
The PAMTA bill is a re-introduction of a measure similar to one rolled out in 2008.