Taking a step in the right direction, the Obama Administration announced on July 14, 2009, that it will seek to ban the routine use of antibiotics on healthy farm animals. With the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as new strains of staph and strep, and waves of swine flue and the bird flue in recent history, it would seem illogical and dangerous to society as a whole for continuing the practice of feeding healthy farm animals antibiotics simply to encourage rapid growth. As reported by the NYT, this practice is not only commonly administered without veterinarian supervision but also involves the usage of as much as 70 percent of antibiotics in the United States on healthy farm animals.
Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs in the Obama Administration, submitted his written report to be heard during a Congressional hearing to express the executive administration’s stance on the issue and to also add weight to a measure proposed by R. Louise M. Slaughter (D)(NY) that would ban seven classes of antibiotics important to human health from being used in animals, and which would also restrict other antibiotics to therapeutic and some preventive uses.
Although the measure is supported by the American Medical Association it is strongly opposed by lobby groups such as the National Pork Producers Council and the strong opposition is expected to defeat the measure. It would be interesting to find out where the pharmaceuticals stand on this issue.