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Health / Diseases

News 749 views last update:Oct 2, 2008

NPPC: Producers use antibiotics to protect pigs

Saying that they are a necessary tool to protect animal and public health, the National Pork Producers Council at a congressional hearing has urged lawmakers not to restrict the use of antibiotics in pork production.

Testifying on behalf of NPPC, Dr. Craig Rowles, a veterinarian and partner with Elite Pork in Carroll, Iowa, told the House Agriculture Committee's livestock subcommittee that pork producers use antibiotics to keep their animals healthy and produce safe, nutritious and quality pork. He said that producers work with their veterinarians to decide how, when and which antibiotics are administered.

Established programmes
Rowles pointed out that the US pork industry has established programmes - the Pork Quality Assurance Plus and the Take Care: Use Antibiotics Responsibly programmes - that include principles and guidelines on antibiotic use that help protect animal and public health and animal well-being.

He said that banning certain antibiotics, as was done in Denmark, could have detrimental effects on pig mortality and even public health. Additionally, he told the committee, a ban would raise producers' production costs by more than $700 million over 10 years.

“As a swine veterinarian, I need all the tools available to live up to [my] oath [to protect animal health, relieve animal suffering and promote public health],” Rowles told the panel. “Legislative attempts to ban certain antibiotics will compromise the oath that every veterinarian took on his or her graduation day.”

Bills introduced
Several bills have been introduced in Congress over the years, including ones in the current Congress sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., to prohibit the use in livestock of certain antibiotics.

“Pork producers and veterinarians have a moral obligation to use antibiotics responsibly to protect human health and provide safe food,” said Dr. Jennifer Greiner, NPPC's director of science and technology. “Producers also have an ethical obligation to maintain the health of their pigs. Antibiotics are merely one piece to the health care system that pigs need.”

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