Antibiotic Ban

Antibiotic Ban

Antibiotic Ban. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

A federal court ordered the Food and Drug Administration recently to resume a 35-year-old proceeding that could ban key antibiotics used in animal feed. The FDA proposed banning use of Penicillin and two forms of Tetracycline for animal growth in 1977 and since then proposed some use restrictions but it never took action despite concern overuse of the drugs could lead to drug-resistant superbugs that spread to humans. Environmental and consumer groups sued and a federal court in Manhattan has just ruled in their favor. Ron Phillips is with the Animal Health Institute.

PHILLIPS: The responsible use of antibiotics to keep animals healthy is important not only to the productivity of farmers but as recent research has shown it’s important to the food safety chain. Having healthy animals that are kept healthy with antibiotics - moving into that food chain.

Phillips says FDA has been trying for two years to come up with guidelines for use of antibiotics.

PHILLIPS: That would phase out the growth promotion uses of antibiotics while phasing in more veterinary oversight. We’ve been working with FTA to try to make that practical and try to make that workable and really this court decision probably has the unintended consequences of slowing down that process.

The District Court ordered the FDA to grant the drug makers a chance to appear at a hearing and prove the antibiotics are safe - but there seems to be data both ways. Judge Theodore Katz wrote failing drug makers’ ability to prove safety the FDA Commissioner must issue a withdrawal-order. The agency says it’s studying Katz’s ruling. In the meantime National Pork Producers Council Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom had this on the use of Tetracycline in pigs.

WAGSTROM: Tetracycline is the most widely used antibiotic in the pig industry however it’s not just for sub-therapeutic or growth promotion use as it’s used widely for other treatment control and uses.

Wagstrom says when Denmark banned Tetracycline and other growth promoters in the 90’s weaned-pig mortality increased and animal growth slowed. She concludes an across-the-board ban would mean higher food prices and lower producer profits.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network. 

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