Groups sue FDA over antibiotic use in animals

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The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit this week against the Food and Drug Administration claiming that FDA has not adequately addressed the use of antibiotics in animal production.

The suit filed by NRDC, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen, and Union of Concerned Scientists, alleges that there is “growing evidence that the spread of bacteria immune to antibiotics around the world has clear links to the overuse of antibiotics in the food industry,” according to a news release issued by NRDC. However, no scientific studies backing the allegation were cited in the news release.

"The FDA needs to put the American people first by ensuring that antibiotics continue to serve their primary purpose -- saving human lives by combating disease.” said Peter Lehner, NRDC executive director. “The coalition suit would compel FDA to take action on the agency’s own safety findings, withdrawing approval for most non-therapeutic uses of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feed,” according to the release.

“We can’t let these precious medicines be wasted so we can save—literally—a few pennies per pig.” said Richard Wood, FACT executive director.  The suit would also compel the FDA to respond to the citizen petitions filed by several of the plaintiffs in 1999 and 2005.

The National Pork Producers Council reacted swiftly to the legal action. “The lawsuit filed today against FDA is spurious,” said NPPC President Doug Wolf in a statement released following the law suit announcement. Wolf is a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis. “Anti-modern livestock production groups are trying to compel FDA to ban antibiotics used to prevent animals from getting sick because those groups have a belief – not scientific evidence – that such FDA-approved animal health products are causing antibiotic resistance in people. Numerous peer-reviewed risk assessments show that the risk to public health from animal uses of antibiotics is negligible.”

“Producing high-quality, safe food is a top priority of U.S. pork producers, who use antibiotics responsibly under the supervision of a veterinarian to keep animals healthy,” added Wolf. “Additionally, the U.S. pork industry developed the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program to educate producers about good on-farm production practices, including antibiotics use. More than 53,000 pork industry workers have been certified under PQA Plus and about 13,000 farms have undergone assessments.”



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Jenn    
Arlington, VA  |  May, 26, 2011 at 10:57 AM

"Numerous peer-reviewed risk assessments show that the risk to public health from animal uses of antibiotics is negligible.” However, no scientific studies backing the allegation were cited in the news article.

John Hare    
Winnipeg  |  May, 26, 2011 at 01:23 PM

As a supplier to the Pork industry I too feel the persecution of such allegations on behalf of my customers. It concerns me however that we are always so quick to defend the use of in feed antibiotics whenever such allegations are made (with or without peer reviewed scientific studies). It makes us look like we have something to hide. They accuse, we defend. The public (our customers) are obviously concerned about the possible negatives associated with such antibiotic use otherwise our detractors wouldn’t have a platform at all. There are alternatives to in feed antibiotics against certain bacteria and we would better serve our cause if we suggested we are exploring these alternatives instead of being so quick to simply defend practices other jurisdictions have eliminated. I have to note that our company produces Hyper-Egg Antibodies against various strains of E. coli, so I do have a vested interest with my comments. The reason I began developing these products some twelve years ago however was to try and provide legitimate alternatives to this problem.

Lori    
Washington  |  May, 26, 2011 at 04:47 PM

If humans are discouraged from using antibiotics for "preventative" measures because it has been shown to promote the developement of antibiotic resistant viruses, why would you give it to animals so that not only might it pass on to humans through the meat (antibiotics, that is), but the animals could face a virus that is also antibiotic resistant due to this over use and face death by the farmer if not the desease itself. Our food 'industry' is lazy and a detriment to the real farmers of our country. Our food should be grown in concert with nature.

Lori    
washington  |  May, 26, 2011 at 04:49 PM

I miss spoke. I know that antibiotics are not appropriate for viruses. Bacterial infections are the true reason for using antibiotics appropriately.

Jim    
Ringsted IA  |  May, 26, 2011 at 10:16 PM

I often wonder why it is the activist group that continue to use the courts to pursue their agenda. If the consumer is truly concerned about the save use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, they would not buy the product. Why do we not hear from the medical profession with concerns of antibiotic use in the livestock industry?

Jim    
Ringsted IA  |  May, 26, 2011 at 10:16 PM

I often wonder why it is the activist group that continue to use the courts to pursue their agenda. If the consumer is truly concerned about the save use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, they would not buy the product. Why do we not hear from the medical profession with concerns of antibiotic use in the livestock industry?

Tee    
pa  |  May, 27, 2011 at 06:35 PM

Several prestigious medical and scientific organizations have identified the use of low-dose antibiotics in animal feed as a major contributor to the rapid emergence of antibiotic-resistance bacteria in both livestock and humans. Examples include the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), The American Academy of Pediatrics, USDA (US Dept of Agriculture), WHO (World Health Organization), and the National Academy of Science. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/226619.php


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