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Call Made for Continued Use of Antibiotics

Think tank says banning beneficial uses can have long-term negative impacts.

Published on: Sep 1, 2010

A public policy think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has submitted comments on an FDA proposal to limit the use of certain antibiotics in livestock, warning that a ban could unintentionally increase the threat of foodborne illness in the United States. The FDA draft guidance would prohibit the use of "medically important" antibiotics for growth promotion in food-producing animals such as cows, pigs, and chickens, and would require veterinary oversight for remaining uses.

Gregory Conko, CEI's Director of Food and Drug Policy, says whether you're talking about human or animal use, banning beneficial uses today can have negative impacts on human and animal health just as surely as a lack of long-term drug efficacy can. Instead, according to Conko, there is a need to balance the current benefits of antimicrobial use against the inevitable development of resistance, and this can include using antibiotics for livestock growth promotion purposes.

Antibiotics use in livestock has been criticized by the public health community due to concerns that it contributes to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. However, U.S. government studies indicate that livestock uses account for only about 10% of the problem with resistant bacteria and misuse in human patients is the leading cause of antibiotic resistance.