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AVMA questions antibiotic ban in animals

Scientific data do not support a ban on the preventative use of antibiotics in food animals, according to The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Dr. Lyle P. Vogel, AVMA assistant executive vice president said that evidence suggests that when livestock are not given antimicrobials for prevention of disease - as has happened in Denmark since the 1990s - an increase in illnesses is likely to occur. In some instances, he added, antibiotic resistance in humans is 10 times greater in Denmark than in the US despite the Danish ban.

"Risk assessments demonstrate a very low risk to human health from the use of antimicrobials in food animals, and some models predict an increased human health burden if the use is withdrawn," Vogel testified. "Non-risk-based bans of approved uses of antimicrobials will negatively impact animal health and welfare without predictably improving public health."

Vogel told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions that the Food & Drug Administration's evaluations of antibiotic use in livestock are more stringent than for human antibiotics. FDA evaluates each food animal antibiotic for human, environmental and animal safety, and additionally, public and private surveillance systems monitor the use of the drugs for the emergence of antibiotic resistance.

AVMA's written testimony and information about the issue will be posted on AVMA's food safety advocacy website .

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