Efforts by several activists, environmental and public health organizations to ban and recall livestock antibiotics are strongly opposed by U.S. pork producers, says the National Pork Producers Council. These efforts would override a science-based regulatory process currently in effect at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.          

Harry Snelson, DVM, NPPC’s director of science and technology, says that pork producers are concerned that their access to antibiotics may be seriously reduced and that proposed legislation advocated by activists, The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2005, could slow and possibly eliminate the development of new and innovative drugs, which could assist producers in finding new treatments for emerging animal diseases.

“Without access to antibiotics a swine herd could potentially be wiped out by disease, which could in turn spread to other farms,” adds Snelson. “A peer-reviewed study published by a panel of human and veterinary experts in 2004, finds little evidence that antibiotic use in animals has a significant impact on human health.”

NPPC believes there is ample proof that a wholesale ban of antibiotics will have a widespread negative impact on animal health and welfare. A broad prohibition of antibiotics ignores the science behind unique interactions between antibiotics, bacteria and the different animal species.

European Union is dealing with antibiotic bans that are causing an increase in animal diseases, resulting in the use of additional therapeutic antibiotics.

In addition, initiatives in packer safety practices, improved agricultural practices on the farm and an expanded food safety program have led to a 23 percent decline in foodborne infections from 1996 to 2001 as documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Snelson says it is imperative that any decisions made regarding antibiotic use in animal agriculture be based on a risk assessment as stipulated by FDA’s Guidance 152 to evaluate the risks and benefits associated with an antibiotic ban and the impact on animal and human health rather than basing decisions on the ‘precautionary principle.’ “Pork producers remain committed to the production of safe and wholesome products through sound, responsible and accepted practices,” says Snelson. “We will undertake an effort with our state associations to lobby Congress against this misguided and harmful legislation.”

National Pork Producers Council