PoliticalNews.me - Nov 18,2010 - WASHINGTON – House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter sent the following letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging the USDA to “take additional steps” to strengthen measures to reduce the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production.
Slaughter’s letter comes after months of increased scrutiny in the U.S. and abroad on the public safety risks posed by the increased use of antibiotics in agriculture. In July, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden warned that there is “a clear link between antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans.”
Slaughter is a longtime advocate for the preservation of antibiotic effectiveness and has introduced legislation that would permit antibiotics to be used only for sick animals and could not be used asa daily meal supplement in their feed.
The full letter is below, and can be downloaded by pdf clicking here.
The Honorable Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
We appreciate the commitment of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to work with its federal partners to ensure that antibiotics are used prudently in livestock animal production. We believe that USDA has the ability and resources to take additional steps to reduce inappropriate usage of antibiotics on farms. Specifically, we urge USDA to: 1) increase monitoring and technical advice provided to farms; 2) expand research on animal husbandry and antibiotic resistance; 3) increase veterinary involvement in the usage of antibiotics; and 4) provide further information on the participants and timeline for the new USDA working group on antibiotics on farms.
On August 13, 2010, we received your letter providing a detailed update on USDA’s activities on antibiotic resistance. We are pleased to learn that USDA is considering an “antibiotics module” for the large animal vets that the agency certifies. Likewise, we appreciate the indication that USDA plans to create a united report on antibiotic resistance. Finally, we are pleased that USDA has issued a call through its Cooperative Extension Agents for integrated proposals aimed at “Minimizing Antibiotic Resistance Transmission throughout the Food Chain.”
However, we would like to make the following four recommendations in order to strengthen USDA’s response:
Increase Monitoring and Surveillance
In your letter received on August 13, 2010, USDA indicated that it plans to expand surveillance and monitoring on antibiotic usage and antibiotic resistance. Annual reporting on the total quantity of antibiotics used in the agricultural setting is of paramount importance to public health. In addition, we would like to request clarification on USDA’s plan to expand the samples collected in the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). While USDA deferred all questions about NARMS to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the sample collection is performed by USDA. We believe that the scope of this survey should be expanded and look for antibiotic resistant microbes on the farm. As you know, safe food begins on the farm, and thus it is essential that we monitor how our production practices affect the