Rep. Louis Slaughter announced late last month that she will once again introduce legislation to reduce the use of antibacterial drugs on healthy animals. Citing confirmed data from the Food and Drug Administration, Slaughter noted that it is “alarming” that “80 percent of all antibacterial drugs used in the United States are used not on humans but on animals, many of whom are already healthy.” That’s nearly 29 million pounds of antibiotics used on animals in 2009, four times the amount used to treat humans.
Antibiotics are fed to animals to promote growth and to negate hazardous conditions created by the factory-style practice of confining large numbers of animals into overcrowded containment areas commonly known as CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) or IFAPs (industrial farm animal productions). This practice creates the perfect conditions for breeding bacteria resistant to antibiotics, many of which are identical or nearly so to the prescription drugs doctors rely upon for treating sick human patients.
Many scientists around the world agree that there is compelling evidence of a clear link between antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans.
Earlier this year, an official spokesperson for Rep. Slaughter informed GMO Journal that the new bill will be mostly the same as that introduced in the 111th session of Congress. That version of the bill would have amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to withdraw the use of seven classes of antibiotics vitally important to human health from use on factory farms unless animals or herds are actually sick.