A federal judge in New York ruled Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must address the overuse of non-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock. The ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed last May by the Natural Resources Defense Council, in which the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and other groups are plaintiffs, over the FDA’s failure to address the mounting health threats of antibiotic use in animals.
The judge’s decision requires the FDA to withdraw existing approvals for the growth promoting use in animal agriculture of two antibiotics – penicillin and tetracyclines. The sponsors of the drugs have the right to contest the withdrawals in an evidentiary hearing, but will bear the burden of proving that continued use is safe.
The FDA found in 1977 that feeding animals low doses of penicillin and tetracycline promotes antibiotic-resistant bacteria capable of infecting people but has failed to act on its findings over the past 30 years.
In December 2010, the FDA published data confirming a 2001 UCS estimate that more than 70 percent of all antimicrobial drugs used in the United States are devoted to non-therapeutic use in livestock. This massive overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture has led to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, increasing the risk of deadly infections that are difficult and costly to treat. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Public Citizen were other plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Friday March 23, 2012/ UCS/ United states.