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September 14, 2011 

GAO Report Confirms Lax Federal Action on Antibiotic Resistance

Statement by Justin Tatham

WASHINGTON (September 14, 2011) –The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report yesterday on the overuse of non-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock that concluded federal agencies have not taken necessary actions to combat antibiotic resistance. The report, “Agencies Have Made Limited Progress Addressing Antibiotic Use in Animals,” found that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency primarily responsible for overseeing livestock, lacked essential data and has a limited understanding of the problem.

Last year, the FDA determined that 80 percent of all antibiotics purchased in the United States are used in animal agriculture, confirming the findings of a decade-old Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) study.

Below is a statement by Justin Tatham, Washington representative for UCS’s Food & Environment Program.

“The GAO report discovered what we already knew. The federal government has been sitting on its hands for years while farmers and ranchers continue to overuse antibiotics, putting Americans at risk.

“The scope of the problem is clear, and the solution is obvious. To avoid this growing threat of antibiotic resistance, livestock producers must stop dosing livestock with antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes such as accelerating growth and preventing diseases due to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions.

“The failure of the administration to act effectively underscores the need for strong congressional action, and bills by Representative Louise Slaughter and Senator Dianne Feinstein would go a long way to protect the public. Their bills would preserve the effectiveness of seven classes of antibiotics used to treat human disease by establishing key safeguards preventing the livestock industry from continuing to use antibiotics indiscriminately. That’s just the medicine this problem needs.”

 

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

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