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Rep. Louise Slaughter Will Re-Introduce Livestock Antibiotics Bill

by: Jill Richardson

Sat Mar 14, 2009 at 08:00:00 AM PDT

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One of my favorite Congresswomen, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) is reintroducing her Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) to limit use of antibiotics in livestock. I don't yet know the bill number in this Congress but you can look it up as H.R.962 in the 110th Congress to find the bill text from before.

ACTION: Email your representative and ask them to co-sponsor this bill. (Last time she had 40 co-sponsors so you can check at the link above to see if your congresscritter's already on the list.)

Jill Richardson :: Rep. Louise Slaughter Will Re-Introduce Livestock Antibiotics Bill
From Rep. Slaughter:

Today, seven classes of antibiotics certified by the FDA as "highly" or "critically" important in human medicine are used in agriculture as animal feed additives for nontherapeutic purposes. Approximately 70 percent of antibiotics and related drugs produced in the US are given to cattle, pigs, and chicken to promote growth and to compensate for crowded, unsanitary, stressful conditions.

This practice contributes significantly to the growing trend of antibiotic resistance and the spread of superbugs, making it harder and more expensive to treat common bacterial infections.  In fact, the problem has become so significant that it has been labeled a "top concern" by the CDC, and the World Health Organization has called it a crisis.

The reason why she's referring to antibiotics by class and not by individual drug is because once a bug develops resistance to one antibiotic, it can easily become resistant to other drugs in the same drug class. Thus, we need to keep all classes of drugs important in human medicine out of non-therapeutic uses in livestock. (Non-therapeutic refers to the fact that the animals aren't sick - they get the antibiotics to promote growth and prevent disease.)

Rep. Slaughter continues:

Antibiotic resistant bacteria can be found in the meat and poultry that we purchase in the grocery store. In fact, a New England Journal of Medicine study conducted in Washington, DC found that 20 percent of the meat sampled was contaminated with Salmonella and 84 percent of those bacteria were resistant to antibiotics used in human medicine and animal agriculture. When we go to the grocery store to pick up dinner, we should be able to buy our food without worrying that eating it will expose our family to potentially deadly bacteria that will no longer respond to our medial treatments.

Slaughter's bill "phases out" the non-therapeutic use of these seven classes of antibiotics in livestock but continues to allow them to be used to treat sick animals. I need to get more info on the bill, but from what I know, I am 100% FOR this. We can't compromise our ability to treat humans just so factory farms can be more profitable.

For more info about antibiotic resistant bacteria from factory farms, read:

Nicholas Kristof's "Our Pigs, Our Food, Our Health"

Obama Foodorama's "Will America Get Porked? Nicholas Kristof's Op Ed On Hog MRSA, And The Potential For Conflict of Interest Between The Pork Lobby And The CDC"

Tom Philpott's "Pork Superbug Documented"

Civil Eats' "Some MRSA with Your BLT? Drug Resistant Staph in U.S. Pigs, Workers"

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Hey now... (4.00 / 1)
Slaughter's bill "phases out" the non-therapeutic use of these seven classes of antibiotics in livestock but continues to allow them to be used to treat sick animals.

That's sort of a radical idea, isn't it Jill?  Actually using those things for what they were created, rather than for maximizing the 'efficiency' of factory farms?


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