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Legislation would limit use of Antibiotics in livestock production.

The Keep Antibiotics Working Coalition is praising the introduction of legislation in both houses of Congress that would combat increasing antibiotic resistance in humans by phasing out the non-therapeutic use in animal agriculture of antibiotics that are important in human medicine.

The House bill (HR 962) is sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.); the Senate bill (S 549) is co-sponsored by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). The bill would phase out within two years the use as animal feed additives of antibiotics that also are important in human medicine, such as penicillin, because, sponsors say, this practice spurs the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is transferred to humans via food, air and water. It would not restrict the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals or to treat pets and other animals not used for food.

The measure provides for federal payments to farmers to defray their costs in switching to antibiotic-free husbandry practices, with a preference given to family farms. It also authorizes grants for research and demonstration programs on means to reduce the use of antibiotics in the raising of livestock.

The bill also requires the pharmaceutical companies making agricultural antibiotics to submit data on the quantity of drugs they sell, along with information on the claimed purpose and the dosage form of those drugs, as a way to help public health officials track the implementation of the phase-out.

In a statement, Senator Kennedy pointed out that the World Health Organization estimates that 14,000 Americans die every year from drug-resistant infections. "This means that one American dies from a resistant infection every 38 minutes," he said.
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Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Date:Feb 26, 2007
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