A bill introduced into U.S. legislation would curb the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production. The bill was introduced in March.
The Union of Concerned Scientists, which is based in Cambridge, Mass., says more than 350 groups have endorsed the legislation, including the American Medical Association.
The bill, reports a Reuters story, would ban the use of antibiotics important to human health from being used on cattle, hogs, sheep and poultry unless animals are ill.
A director at the Union of Concerned Scientists reports that currently animal agriculture accounts for an estimated 70 per cent of all antibiotic use in the U.S.
The major concern, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, is that when continually exposed to antibiotics, bacteria develop resistance to the drugs. Adding antibiotics to animal feed in confined animal feeding operations turn these overcrowded facilities into prime breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can move to humans through food, air and water. Then when people get sick from these resistant bacteria, antibiotics are less effective.
Industry groups oppose bill
Industry groups that oppose the bill say that animal deaths would increase, producer costs would rise, meat output would drop and consumers would see prices climb.
The American Farm Bureau Federation says the bill would handicap veterinarians and livestock and poultry producers in their efforts to protect the nation’s food supply and maintain the health of their farm animals.
The Federation also says that antibiotics are critically important to the health and welfare of the animals and to the safety of the food produced.