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New FDA Ag Antibiotic Ban Explained

January 11, 2012

CASPER, Wyo. - Farmers and ranchers in Wyoming and around the nation must make some changes when it comes to treating animals with antibiotics.

The federal Food and Drug Administration is banning some off-label uses of the class of medications known as Cephalosporins, because of concerns that overuse in animals is creating drug-resistant bacteria - which in turn affects people.

David Wallinga, senior adviser on science, food and health at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, applauds the decision.

"The problem with the animal use is that it's helping to create potentially life-threatening infections. The animal use is undercutting the human use."

Those who oppose the ban, which takes effect April 5, say there are already few options for effective animal antibiotics, and this takes away another one of them.

About 54,000 pounds of Cephalosporins were used in producing U.S. farm animals in 2010, Wallinga says, noting that that's a drop in the bucket compared with the widespread use of other antibiotics in agriculture. He thinks more needs to be done to end routine use of antibiotics.

"According to FDA's own data, 29 million pounds of antibiotics are being used each year in agriculture, and most of that is the huge amounts of antibiotics put into animal feed - things like Tetracycline and penicillin."

Antibiotics are used in feed to help promote faster growth and ward off possible infections, and are promoted as a way to keep food supplies safe.

More information is online at iatp.org.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY