The Obama administration is trying to ban the routine use of antibiotics in pig, chicken and livestock feed.
Do you agree or disagree with this proposal? It could potentially affect animal feeding operations and runoff in Pennsylvania, Maryland and elsewhere in the Chesapeake Bay region.
Advocates of such a ban, including Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the administration’s principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs (and until recently, Baltimore’s health commissioner) argue that feeding antibiotics to livestock to enhance their growth can also promote the growth of potentially dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. More importantly, these scientists assert, using antibiotics in farm animals weakens the drugs so they won’t be as effective when doctors really need them to protect the lives of humans.
On the other side of the debate, some farming groups – notably, the National Pork Producers Council – say there is no good evidence that any antibiotic-resistant diseases in the human population have come from agriculture. And they argue that restricting antibiotics could hurt the health of pigs and other farm animals and raise the price of meat.
A hearing on the proposal was held on Monday by the U.S. House Rules Committee. The New York Times reports that the move “would ban seven classes of antibiotics important to human health from being used in animals, and would restrict other antibiotics to therapeutic and some preventive uses."
The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated that more than two thirds of antibiotics used in the United States is given to healthy chickens, pigs and cattle to encourage their growth or to prevent illnesses.
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