The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit this week against the Food and Drug Administration claiming that FDA has not adequately addressed the use of antibiotics in animal production.

The suit filed by NRDC, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen, and Union of Concerned Scientists, alleges that there is “growing evidence that the spread of bacteria immune to antibiotics around the world has clear links to the overuse of antibiotics in the food industry,” according to a news release issued by NRDC. However, no scientific studies backing the allegation were cited in the news release.

"The FDA needs to put the American people first by ensuring that antibiotics continue to serve their primary purpose -- saving human lives by combating disease.” said Peter Lehner, NRDC executive director. “The coalition suit would compel FDA to take action on the agency’s own safety findings, withdrawing approval for most non-therapeutic uses of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feed,” according to the release.

“We can’t let these precious medicines be wasted so we can save—literally—a few pennies per pig.” said Richard Wood, FACT executive director.  The suit would also compel the FDA to respond to the citizen petitions filed by several of the plaintiffs in 1999 and 2005.

The National Pork Producers Council reacted swiftly to the legal action. “The lawsuit filed today against FDA is spurious,” said NPPC President Doug Wolf in a statement released following the law suit announcement. Wolf is a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis. “Anti-modern livestock production groups are trying to compel FDA to ban antibiotics used to prevent animals from getting sick because those groups have a belief – not scientific evidence – that such FDA-approved animal health products are causing antibiotic resistance in people. Numerous peer-reviewed risk assessments show that the risk to public health from animal uses of antibiotics is negligible.”

“Producing high-quality, safe food is a top priority of U.S. pork producers, who use antibiotics responsibly under the supervision of a veterinarian to keep animals healthy,” added Wolf. “Additionally, the U.S. pork industry developed the Pork Quality Assurance Plus program to educate producers about good on-farm production practices, including antibiotics use. More than 53,000 pork industry workers have been certified under PQA Plus and about 13,000 farms have undergone assessments.”