What are the disadvantages? Antimicrobial resistant bacteria can develop.
So what is the preferred use to keep the benefits and curtail resistance? Less use vs. more use, lower doses in more animals, higher doses in fewer animals, stronger drugs or culling more animals? These are the questions that are being dealt with today, DeHaven said.
There are different camps that propose different approaches. One is to discontinue the use of antimicrobials in food animals. “Don’t take chances, eliminate or reduce the use of antibiotics in animals on the possibility it is jeopardizing human health,” DeHaven said. “Or, continue use and do not take action unless there is a scientific risk assessment. The benefits to animal health, welfare and food safety outweigh the risks to human health based on risk assessments which are minimal.” The question is if there is a novel approach somewhere in the middle.
AVMA’s position on antimicrobials
DeHaven stated that the AVMA supports the judicious use of antimicrobials in food animals to maximize benefits and minimize the risks for resistance. “We support greater veterinary involvement in any use of antimicrobials. Actions to limit use should be based on available scientific research and risk-based assessments.”
The AVMA also does not support the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) legislation. “It lacks risk-based assessment,” he said. “It has the potential to eliminate two or three of the four approved uses of antibiotics in animals, and there could be animal welfare implications with more disease if antibiotic use is restricted.”
AVMA believes there should be – and will be – greater veterinary oversight of antibiotic use. The VFD is the primary vehicle for greater oversight of antimicrobials in feed, but the degree of oversight should be proportionate to the risk.” To look at this issue, AVMA has put in place a Veterinary Oversight Steering Committee.
DeHaven says the AVMA would prefer there be regulation vs. legislation when it comes to antimicrobial use in food animals. “With legislation there is less opportunity for scientific input and evaluation, and it tends to be politically motivated,” he said. “Regulation involves rulemaking that provides months or years for input. It is more deliberative, and statutory authority already exists.”