National Coalition Calls for Ban on Feeding Antibiotics to Animals

National Coalition Calls for Ban
on Feeding Antibiotics to Animals

Antibiotic Resistance Threat Spurs Effort to End Drug Overuse
U.S. Newswire
30 Oct 13:16

Antibiotic Resistance Threat Spurs Effort to End Drug Overuse; Bayer
Urged to Respect Proposed Ban on Using Cipro-Related Drug on Poultry
To: National Desk, Health Reporter
Contact: Sean Crowley, 202-478-6128,,

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A national
public health initiative is being launched today to fight one of
America's most pressing medical threats: antibiotic resistance. A
coalition of concerned health, consumer, agricultural,
environmental and other advocacy groups announced the initiative,
"Keep Antibiotics Working: The Campaign to End Antibiotic Overuse,"
( at the National Press Club in
Washington, D.C. The campaign is dedicated to eliminating a major
cause of antibiotic resistance -- the inappropriate use of
antibiotics in farm animals.

"Recent concerns about bioterrorism underscore the importance of
having powerful, effective antibiotics available to treat human
diseases," said David Wallinga, M.D., senior scientist with the
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, based in Minneapolis,
Minn. "Unfortunately, overuse of antibiotics in both agriculture
and medicine is creating infections that resist treatment with

A number of antibiotics used in agriculture are identical or
very similar to antibiotics used in human medical treatment. These
include antibiotics routinely fed to healthy animals as well as
ones given to entire flocks of poultry even if only a few birds are

An important element of the campaign is to persuade Bayer, the
manufacturer of Cipro(r), to comply with a U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) proposed ban on the use of a similar
antibiotic, Baytril(r), in sick poultry. FDA scientists determined
that such use contributes to increased antibiotic resistance in
bacteria that cause serious food poisoning. The campaign unveiled
a website urging Americans to write Bayer Chief Executive Officer
Helge Wehmeier and demand that Bayer comply with the FDA's proposed
ban (

"Throughout the country, physicians are reporting difficulty
treating potentially life-threatening infections caused by bacteria
that have become resistant to antibiotics," said Tamar Barlam, MD,
director, Project on Antibiotic Resistance, Center for Science in
the Public Interest, based in Washington, D.C. "Everyone is at risk
from infections resistant to antibiotics."

Although even the most careful use of antibiotics can result in
the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, widespread and
inappropriate use of these precious drugs greatly accelerates the
process. The more often bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, the
more likely they are to develop resistance. A major source of
antibiotic overuse is livestock producers unnecessarily feeding
antibiotics to healthy farm animals to promote growth and
compensate for unsanitary conditions found in industrial animal

"An estimated 70 percent of all antimicrobials in the U.S. are
fed to healthy pigs, poultry, and beef cattle," said Margaret
Mellon, Ph.D., J.D., food and environmental program director at the
Union of Concerned Scientists, based in Cambridge, Mass.

"Conventionally raised animals are often given feed that's laced
with antibiotics to promote growth and prevent disease," said Rob
Hurlbut, chief operating officer of Niman Ranch, based in Oakland,
Calif., which raises meat without the routine use of antibiotics.
"But if you raise livestock naturally and with care, you don't need
to feed them antibiotics that can create resistant strains of
bacteria in the animals that are passed on to humans."

"This public health campaign will educate Americans about the
importance of keeping antibiotics working for people who need
them," said Karen Florini, senior attorney for Environmental
Defense, based in New York City. "Because of this growing health
crisis, the American Medical Association now opposes the use of
antibiotics in healthy farm animals. We will work with Congress,
the Food and Drug Administration, and companies that produce and
sell meat to phase out inappropriate antibiotic use in

The Keep Antibiotics Working coalition includes: Physicians for
Social Responsibility, Center for Science in the Public Interest,
and Humane Society of the United States, based in Washington, DC;
Union of Concerned Scientists, based in Cambridge, Mass.;
Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, and
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment, based in New
York City; Sierra Club, based in San Francisco; National Catholic
Rural Life Conference, based in Des Moines, Iowa; Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy, based in Minneapolis; and Food Animal
Concerns Trust, based in Chicago.

For more information about Keep Antibiotics Working, contact
Sean Crowley at 202-478-6128 (w), 202-329-5214 (c) or or log onto

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