The American Medical Association, citing concerns about antibiotic resistance in humans, has come out in opposition to the routine use of antimicrobial medicines in livestock or in pesticides.

In a resolution approved Tuesday by the AMA's House of Delegates, the leading U.S. doctor's group urged that regulators halt or phase out the use of antimicrobials in livestock, except when needed for therapeutic uses to treat an animal's illness.

The AMA, which represents nearly 300,000 physicians, says it opposes the use of antibiotics in pesticides or as animal growth promoters in otherwise healthy livestock, and urges increased surveillance of antimicrobial use and resistance.

The recommendation is part of a larger effort by the AMA and other medical groups to counter antibiotic resistance in humans by recommending physicians not overuse the drugs and stop using products such as antimicrobial soaps.

Several public interest groups are praising the AMA
for its actions. "Antibiotic resistance has the potential to plunge us back into medicine's dark ages when doctors couldn't treat infections caused by bacteria," says David Wallinga of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, one of several scientists who issued a joint statement Wednesday in support of the AMA's action.

"Although precise data do not now exist, the best available estimates indicate that most antibiotic use in the United States occurs in raising animals for food," says Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Source: Reuters, U.S. Newswire