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AMA Seeks Ban on Antibiotic Use on Farms for Growth Promotion

The American Medical Association (AMA) is calling for federal action to ban antibiotic use in food animals for growth promotion purposes so as to slow the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“Use drives resistance and overuse drives resistance to happen even faster,” said David Wallinga, a physician on the Keep Antibiotics Working steering committee. There is also overuse in hospitals, but, he said, “As much as 70 percent of the use in agriculture is unnecessary or overuse.”

Resolution 513, which was adopted earlier this month at AMA’s annual meeting, also calls for members to support regulatory and legislative measures requiring that antibiotic prescriptions for animals be overseen by a veterinarian within a valid context and for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand its surveillance and data collection of antibiotic use in agriculture.

AMA is an association “that people often look to to send a signal — both in terms of policy and to the market,” Wallinga said.

Infectious disease doctors are “quite freaked out by the fact that their antibiotics are not working a lot of the time now,” he noted. “The AMA policy is a reflection of the increasing level of crisis that these doctors feel, but there’s still a disconnect in the general public at how serious a problem it is.”

The previous AMA policy opposed the use of antimicrobials at non-therapeutic levels in agriculture and urged that such uses be terminated or phased out. This new, more stringent policy replaces the earlier one.

City councils across the country have also been weighing in on the problem. On Wednesday, Chicago joined 10 other cities including St. Paul, Seattle and Pittsburgh in passing a resolution to encourage Congress to pass Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D-NY) “Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act” (PAMTA). Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress, introduced the bill in March 2013 to ban the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in the production of livestock.

© Food Safety News
  • Sarah

    Well it’s about bloody time!