A couple of news bills have entered Congress that propose adjustments in livestock antibiotic use. Specifically, they call for a phase-out of non-therapeutic antibiotics in animal agriculture that are deemed important to human medicine.
The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act was introduced by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the senate health, education, labor and pensions committee. Joining him is Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). A House version was introduced by Rules Committee Chairman, Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). It's worth noting that she is a microbiologist — the only one in Congress.
There has been growing pressure in Congress to address antibiotics use in food-producing animals. Specifically, there has been increased lobbying on the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed, citing the possibility of resistance to the medicines in humans.
Sponsors of the bills say more than 350 groups, including the American Medical Association support this movement. If passed, it would phase-out any antibiotics in animal feed that are also important to human medicine, within two years. The bills' supporters say it would still leave farmers with many antibiotics. Some in animal agriculture would argue that point, and point to the lack of new approvals for animal-based antibiotics as a further dilemma.
The bills also authorize funds to help farmers defray the cost of phasing out the use of the specified antibiotics.