Opponents of modern livestock production are pushing a theory that antibiotic use in food animals is leading to an increase in antibiotic resistance in humans and, therefore, antibiotic use in livestock production must be restricted. Witnesses at a congressional hearing Wednesday claimed that a number of studies link use of antibiotics in livestock with antibiotic resistance in humans.

Randal Singer, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, countered opponents' claim at the hearing. “All uses of antibiotics improve animal health, and these improvements in animal health can substantially improve human health,” Singer told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. “The best way to manage antibiotic uses in animal agriculture is through sound, rational, science-based policy.”

“All uses of antibiotics improve animal health, and these improvements in animal health can substantially improve human health,” Singer testified.

The livestock production opponents cited the results of a 1998 ban in Denmark on antibiotic growth promoters and preventatives.

Singer testified that “the removal of growth promoting antibiotics from use in food animals in Denmark resulted in an increased reliance on therapeutic doses of medically important antibiotics to treat the ill animals.” Singer has studied antibiotic uses and antibiotic resistance for 12 years.

Several groups, including Keep Antibiotics Working and the Union of Concerned Scientists, support legislation sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., that would ban the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry that prevent or control diseases and improve feed efficiency and weight gain.

“Pork producers have a moral obligation to use antibiotics responsibly, under the direction of a veterinarian, to protect public health and produce safe food,” said Howard Hill, DVM, a member of the NPPC board of directors. “Producers also have an ethical obligation to maintain the health of their pigs, and antibiotics are an important tool to help us do that.”

In April, the top scientists for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health testified that there is no scientific study linking antibiotic use in food-animal production with antibiotic resistance in humans.

For more information about antibiotic use in pork production, visit www.factsaboutpork.org.

Source: NPPC