July 3, 2008


US study backs preventive antibiotics use in livestock


A US study by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is overturning current market belief that antibiotic use is harmful to human health.


Conventional wisdom holds that antibiotic use in livestock should be controlled or totally banned on the pretext that it would lessen the potency of these antibiotics when they are used by humans who have eaten the animals.


However, in Denmark, which has banned antibiotics in animals since the 1990s, antibiotic resistance in humans is 10 times greater than in the US, according to Dr. Lyle P. Vogel, AVMA assistant executive vice president. Vogel was testifying at the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour & Pensions.


"Risk assessments demonstrate a very low risk to human health from the use of antimicrobials in food animals, and some models predict an increased human health burden if the use is withdrawn," Vogel said.


A wholesale ban on approved uses of antibiotics will negatively impact animal health and welfare without predictably improving public health, he added.


AVMA's written testimony and information about the issue will be posted on AVMA's food safety advocacy website.

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