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For Immediate
July 9, 1998


For more information:

Consumer Group Urges FDA to Act on NAS Report on Animal Drugs 

Today the National Research Council released a report, "The use of drugs in food animals: benefits and risks." Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, had the following comment concerning the use of antibiotics in livestock. Earlier this year, CSPI released a report, "Protecting the Crown Jewels of Medicine: a strategic plan to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics," which recommended policy initiatives to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use on the farm, in doctors’ offices, and in hospitals.

The National Research Council report is a landmark, because it is the first authoritative U.S. report that explicitly acknowledges that agricultural uses of antibiotics pose a risk to the public health. That finding is particularly remarkable considering that at least six of the 14 members of the NRC committee are associated with agribusiness. However, perhaps it is that heavy representation that prevented the committee from recommending that the routine use of antibiotics to promote animal growth and other inappropriate uses be banned. I urge the Food and Drug Administration to act swiftly to protect the public by banning those uses. Without aggressive action to prevent overuse of antibiotics in agriculture and human medicine, the crown jewels of medicine will turn to dust.

In recent years, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and dozens of eminent microbiologists and physicians have urged that medically important antibiotics not be used as growth promotants in livestock.

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