Bill approved on the reduction of antibiotics

By Georgi Gyton

- Last updated on GMT

Industry groups say the bill is unlikely to make any difference
Industry groups say the bill is unlikely to make any difference

Related tags Medicine Livestock

The Californian Assembly has approved a bill which serves to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock, but industry groups say it is unlikely to make a difference.

This week the Assembly took the state senate’s lead in approving the "very modest bill"​ (SB 835), but the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC) has claimed it would make a small dent, if any, in reducing the routine use of antibiotics to raise livestock.

The organisation, along with other public interest groups, opposed the measure based on this belief and is calling for laws that stop the practice of giving healthy animals daily doses of antibiotics in their feed.

Jonathan Kaplan, food and agriculture program director at the NRDC, said that the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organisation, and other prominent medical and scientific groups, such as the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Academy of Pediatrics, recognised that overuse of antibiotics, in both humans and animals, was contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

"With over 80% of antibiotic sales in the US going to livestock and poultry use, animal use of antibiotics needs to be part of the solution,"​ urged Kaplan.

He said that "mirroring a flawed voluntary policy",​ adopted by the US Food and Drug Administration, the new bill would merely prohibit drug manufacturers from selling antibiotics for "growth promotion"​ uses, but would allow the same drugs to be used routinely to help animals survive unhealthy living conditions.

"It’s a gigantic loophole that we fear will do little to change actual drug use,"​ said Kaplan.

He claimed farmers in the US and overseas have demonstrated that it is possible to prevent disease in large-scale livestock operations, through better management, rather than the use of antibiotics. "Companies like Chipotle, Panera and others are selling meat raised without antibiotics at mainstream prices,"​ he said.

"We also need laws that require reporting of antibiotic use so that we know where, how, and why antibiotics are being used, how practices are changing, and if the FDA’s voluntary policy (and, if enacted, SB 835) is having any impact. Hopefully SB 835 can be a building block rather than a stumbling block for more meaningful reform."

Related topics Meat

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