Pork Producers Oppose Misguided Efforts to Recall and Ban Livestock Antibotics

April 12, 2005

Contact: Dave Warner 202-347-3600

Washington, D.C., April 12, 2005 -Last week’s efforts by several activists, environmental and public health organizations to ban and recall livestock antibiotics are strongly opposed by U.S. pork producers , says National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) Animal Health and Food Security Policy Chairman Malcolm DeKryger. “These efforts would override a strict, science-based regulatory process currently in effect at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” said DeKryger, a pork producer from DeMotte, Ind. “We stand behind the rigorous FDA process that ensures the safety and usefulness of antibiotics to protect the health of U.S. livestock.”

Dr. Harry Snelson, NPPC’s director of science and technology, said that pork producers are concerned that their access to antibiotics may be seriously reduced and that proposed legislation advocated by activists, The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2005, could slow and possibly eliminate the development of new and innovative drugs, which could assist producers in finding new treatments for emerging animal diseases. “Without access to antibiotics a swine herd could potentially be wiped out by disease, which could in turn spread to other farms,” Dr. Snelson said. “A peer-reviewed study published by a panel of human and veterinary experts in 2004, finds little evidence that antibiotic use in animals has a significant impact on human health.”

According to Dr. Snelson, pork producers and swine veterinarians promote responsible and judicious use of antibiotics in pork production to provide safe and wholesome products to consumers worldwide. “In cooperation with the National Pork Board and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, NPPC encourages its members to utilize successful programs and guidelines including the Take Care Program, Judicious Use Principles, and Pork Quality Assurance in educating swine producers on the proper use of antimicrobials for swine herd health,” he said.

NPPC believes there is ample proof that a wholesale ban of antibiotics will have a widespread negative impact on animal health and welfare. A broad prohibition of antibiotics ignores the science behind unique interactions between antibiotics, bacteria and the different animal species.

“If you look at the experiences of producers in the European Union, who have lived with politically-inspired antibiotic bans, scientific results are showing that the incidence of animal disease has increased, indicating that there is a need for additional use of therapeutic antibiotics,” DeKryger said. “The ban in Europe has not resulted in the stated goal of improving human health.”

In addition, DeKryger says initiatives in slaughterhouse safety practices, improved agricultural practices on the farm and an expanded food safety program have led to a 23 percent decline in food-borne infections from 1996 to 2001 as documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Snelson says it is imperative that any decisions made regarding antibiotic use in animal agriculture be based on a risk assessment as stipulated by FDA’s Guidance 152 to evaluate the risks and benefits associated with an antibiotic ban and the impact on animal and human health rather than basing decisions on the ‘precautionary principle.’ “Pork producers remain committed to the production of safe and wholesome products through sound, responsible and accepted practices,” Dr. Snelson said. “We will undertake an effort with our state associations to lobby Congress against this misguided and harmful legislation.”

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NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 67,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org