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article imageProposal to restrict antibiotic use on farms

By Tim Sandle     Aug 16, 2014 in Environment
A measure being taken through the California legislature requires farmers to obtain a prescription to administer antibiotics to livestock.
Reported by Digital Journal earlier, the California State Senate proposed a bill to restrict the use of antibiotics in farm animals. Following on from this, in August California lawmakers approved the bill that restricts the use of antibiotics in farm animals to cases substantiated by prescriptions and requiring that drugmakers label antibiotics as prescription-only.
Although federal guidelines already request similar practices, if enacted, this would be the first instance of such restrictions becoming law.
The rule is intended to curb the practice of using antibiotics to improve the condition of livestock. Many farmers add antibiotics to animal feed or drinking water of cattle, hogs, poultry and other food-producing animals to help them gain weight faster or use less food to gain weight. This is a practice that is seen by many scientists as augmenting antibiotic-resistance in humans. One analysis showed that of 30 antibiotics commonly added to animal feed, 18 pose risks to humans by potentially exposing people to antibiotic-resistant bacteria in foods. This relates to health issues with the human body and the accelerated rate of bacteria becoming resistant to the very drugs that are designed to kill them.
Nonetheless, the bill does not go as far as many environmental campaigners would wish for. For example, Jonathan Kaplan, the director of the National Resources Defense Council’s Food and Agriculture said in a statement that the bill "would prohibit drug manufacturers from selling antibiotics for ‘growth promotion’ uses, but would allow the very 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."
In related news, the U.S. FDA recently asked 26 companies to voluntarily stop labeling drugs important for treating human infection as acceptable for animal growth promotion.
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