Limiting animal antibiotics
This article was originally published in February 2014
The Obama administration’s new policy to curb the systematic use of antibiotics in healthy farm animals is a step in the right direction and one that PCC members might take a little credit for. PCC has advocated limits on antibiotic use in seven campaigns since 2000, but our work is not done.
The new policy makes it illegal for ranchers to put antibiotics in food and water to make animals grow larger and plumper. Producers also will need to get a veterinarian prescription to use drugs to prevent disease in healthy livestock.
Critics say it’s a significant loophole to not prohibit the use of antibiotics to prevent disease. Ranchers may continue to use the same low doses of the same antibiotics by contending they’re needed to keep animals from getting sick.
Health officials say using drugs for non-therapeutic purposes in animals has fueled an epidemic of antibiotic resistance and endangered human health. Drugs currently being used in livestock include penicillin, azithromycin and tetracycline.