News / Health

US Regulators Limit Antibiotics in Livestock

Livestock huddle as they feed in an open field covered in ice, Dec. 7, 2013, near Corinth, Texas.
Livestock huddle as they feed in an open field covered in ice, Dec. 7, 2013, near Corinth, Texas.
U.S. regulators are asking drug companies to phase out the use of certain antibiotics intended to improve the growth of livestock.

Critics have long argued the practice is contributing to the worldwide antibiotic resistance crisis.

Large-scale livestock farms around the world often use small doses of antibiotics to help healthy animals grow faster with less feed.

Public health experts say that encourages bacteria to evolve defenses, making the drugs less effective to fight infections.

The new measure would end that practice over the next three years.

It would require a veterinarian to write a prescription for all other uses.

“With these changes, there will be fewer approved uses, and the remaining uses will be under tighter control to minimize the impact on resistance,” says FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor.

Voluntary program

The changes are voluntary, which has some angered some of FDA’s critics.

Advocates have been pressing the agency for years to end the use of antibiotics as growth promoters.

But Taylor says this approach is faster than going through the lengthy and complicated regulatory process.

And FDA can still make the change mandatory if companies do not go along voluntarily, Taylor adds.

Physician Dimitri Drekonja with the medical association the Infectious Diseases Society of America says FDA’s action is a good first step.

“If this voluntary effort is taken up by the entire industry and everybody goes along with it, then it will actually be a needed first and potentially last step,” he added. “Now, will that happen? I have my doubts.”

Making changes

Some major drug companies have already agreed to make the changes, however.

National Pork Producers Council Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom says her industry is preparing to adjust.

“We may lose some efficiency,” Wagstrom says. “We may have some animals that may not grow quite as quickly or take more grain to reach their full weight.”

And they may see some more sick animals with the decline in antibiotic use, she says.

But she declined to put a price tag on the changes.

Measuring impact difficult

How the new policy affects the drug resistance problem may actually be hard to measure.

“It would be great if there was sort-of like a dashboard and you could watch the needle drop in the amount of antibiotics used and then watch the next gauge, which is the national resistance and see what happening there,” Drekonja says. “We don’t have two simple gauges like that.”

There is a real lack of good data on the amounts of antibiotics used on farms, as well as by doctors, he notes.

And others point out that some bacteria have remained resistant for years after certain antibiotics have been banned from animal use.

But with officials warning about an approaching post-antibiotic era, doctors say they have been taking steps to limit their use of these important drugs, and they say the livestock industry should, too.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
December 12, 2013 1:39 PM
It is the addition of antibiotic growth promotants in feeds that propelled the meat industry in the US for more than half a century. The idea of transmission of resistant disease producing bacteria from animals to human due to small amounts of antibiotics in the feed is insignificant, if at all it occurs. The resistance development of infectious bacteria in human is not because of small quantities of antibiotic in feed. Antibiotic resistance development in humans is due to the miss use of antibiotics by MDs who over-prescribe antibiotics for cold, fever and other minor conditions that does not require antibiotics.

The price of meat will increase, the diseases in animals will increase and the pharmaceutical companies will make more money with increased disease incidence in food animals. If the resistance development of human pathogenic bacteria is due to antibiotics in the feed of food animals, how come there is growing trend in the resistance development of drugs used for TB, AIDS and other diseases that are unique in humans? Any microbial will develop resistance to antibiotics due to short term or long term use.

The antibiotic resistance is further enhanced by the patients who do not undergo the medication regimen. Blaming the antibiotic growth promotants in feeds as the cause of antibiotic resistance development in humans is too far fetched by the warriors of bureaucracy in the FDA. Why the FDA want to implement the banning of antibiotic growth promotants in feeds through the back door circumventing the normal procedures?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid