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SuperbugsCalifornia bill banning use of antibiotics in livestock withdrawn

Published 8 May 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Preventionreports that 23,000 people die every year from infections that cannot be cured, often due to overuse of antibiotics which creates drug resistant bugs. Last Wednesday, California Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) withdrew proposed legislation which would ban the sale of meat and poultry fed on nontherapeutic antibiotics. He lacked sufficient support from fellow legislators.

Use of livestock antibiotics creates antibiotic-resistant strains // Source: vetshop.com.vn

Last Wednesday, California Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) withdrew proposed legislation which would ban the sale of meat and poultry fed on nontherapeutic antibiotics. He lacked sufficient support from fellow legislators.

The bill intended to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics in humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 23,000 people die every year from infections that cannot be cured, often due to overuse of antibiotics which creates drug resistant bugs.

“I think this is an important public health issue that needs to be addressed, but the votes were simply not there to move it forward this year,” said Mullin, who withdrew bill AB1437 on the day it was scheduled to be presented to the state Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture.

Ben Turner, Mullin’s spokesman, said Mullin was told by fellow legislators and staff of the agriculture committee that the bill would not proceed if it remained in its current form. Mullin has decided to focus on other ways to achieve the intention of the legislation in order to maintain its integrity and to avoid amendments that would diminish the bill’s purpose.

San Francisco Chronicle notes that it is a common practice for farmers regularly to feed livestock antibiotics to help them grow fatter faster but overuse of antibiotics have created superbugs which medicine simply can not cure. “If we used the same warped logic on our day care and nursery school attendees as those who add antibiotics to animal feed, we would be sprinkling antibiotics into children’s PB&J sandwiches and milk to prevent infections and ensure better weight gain,” said Dr. John Bolton, former president of the Northern California Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “This would, of course, be quite insane.”

Mullin said his bill is stronger than the FDA’s plan to reduce the use of antibiotics in food animals. “The FDA’s recent voluntary regulations are not enough to stop the inappropriate use of antibiotics in livestock and leave the public’s health at risk,” Mullin said. The FDA program would allow farmers to use antibiotics on livestock only with a veterinarian’s authorization. Under the program, twenty-six pharmaceutical companies have agreed to a three-year phase out of promoting antibiotics for growth in livestock.