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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid