Each year more antibiotics are fed to healthy food-animals in the state of North Carolina alone than are given to all Americans. Due to this misuse, antibiotic-resistant diseases now kill more Americans per year than HIV/AIDS. At least two million Americans become infected annually with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.
In 2011, Congresswoman Slaughter was the first to confirm with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) an alarming statistic: 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are used not on humans but on food-animals, most of which are perfectly healthy. Due to poor living conditions and cramped pens, these animals are at a disproportionately high risk of disease, so companies use antibiotics as a preventative measure rather than improving conditions.
When our limited supply of antibiotics is used indiscriminately and without care, there are dire public health consequences. Scientific evidence clearly indicates that the overuse of antibiotics in food production is contributing to the growth of antibiotic-resistant diseases threatening human health. It is almost difficult to imagine the severe costs of surrendering the single greatest medical achievement of 20th century medicine. Experts warn that in the future, strep throat could be fatal. Hip replacements, caesarian sections, and simple dental procedures would be too risky to perform.
It is time to put a stop to big agriculture doling out pharmaceuticals to healthy animals just because they think it’s better for their bottom line. Antibiotic use in food-animals must be limited to prevent the inadvertent creation of superbugs that are too powerful for modern medicine.
- Passing the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA): PAMTA is one of Congresswoman Slaughter’s signature bills and would preserve the effectiveness of medically important antibiotics by ending the use of these drugs in healthy food-producing animals, while allowing their use for treatment of sick animals. The legislation also requires the FDA to confirm that any new antibiotics seeking to be used in animals don’t harm human health.
- Public Awareness: By increasing visibility of the danger of misusing antibiotics on animals, Congresswoman Slaughter hopes to influence companies to change their policies to protect the consumer. The congresswoman is reaching out to schoolboards and city councils to promote the use of meat raised without unnecessary antibiotics and to garner their support in protecting the value of antibiotics for all.
- Encourage Executive Branch Regulations: Through public and private channels, Congresswoman Slaughter has called upon the FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to take action to improve regulatory oversight, surveillance, and monitoring of food-animal production and antibiotic resistance.
- PAMTA Introduction: Originally introduced in 1999, PAMTA has long been the preeminent bill aiming to protect antibiotic use for humans. Congresswoman Slaughter took over as the primary sponsor of PAMTA in 2007 and has introduced the bill every Congress since.
- National Awareness: In 2011, Congresswoman Slaughter pressed Secretary Sebelius at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a national plan to combat antibiotic resistance. As a direct result of her advocacy, HHS, in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), developed a national plan to combat antibiotic resistance. Congresswoman Slaughter also played a key role in ensuring that a September 2014 report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) acknowledged the link between the overuse of antibiotics on industrial farms and the development of antibiotic-resistant microbes harmful to humans.
- Restaurant Advocacy: In 2013, Congresswoman Slaughter communicated with over 60 fast food companies, producers, processors, and grocery store chains asking them to disclose their policies on antibiotic use in meat and poultry production. The survey revealed that while a small number of companies are leading the way toward a food production system without the unnecessary use of antibiotics, the vast majority of food producers and distributors regularly use antibiotics on perfectly healthy animals. Congresswoman Slaughter’s continued pressure helped convince McDonald’s and Costco to announce in March 2015 and that they will no longer use “critically important” antibiotics in chicken. In addition, Tyson Foods announced in February 2017 that it plans to get rid of antibiotics in its name-brand chicken by June 2017. Congresswoman Slaughter continues to call for policies that will protect human health.
- Business and Farmer Engagement: The congresswoman hosted a briefing in which farmers and successful businesses extolled the benefits of tapping into the growing domestic and international demand for antibiotic-free meat. Congresswoman Slaughter was joined by an impressive panel, including Steve Ells, CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Stephen McDonnell, CEO of award-winning Applegate Farms, Paul Willis, President of Niman Ranch, a network of over 650 independent sustainable farms, and Russ Kremer, a Missouri livestock farmer who changed his practices after getting an antibiotic resistant infection. To learn more about the briefing, click here.
More on Antibiotic Resistance
I’m proud to have recently introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA). This bill would prevent a nightmarish post-antibiotic future by preserving eight classes of antibiotics from being regularly fed to healthy animals in order to save these antibiotics for sick humans and sick animals only. A similar bipartisan bill was also introduced in the Senate.
WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25), the only microbiologist in Congress, today introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) to prevent a nightmarish post-antibiotic future. The bill would save eight critical classes of antibiotics from being routinely fed to healthy animals and would reserve them only for sick humans and sick animals. Slaughter’s legislation is designed to finally bring an end to the overuse of antibiotics on the farm, a practice that is accelerating the growth of antibiotic-resistant infection.
WASHINGTON, DC — With the release this afternoon of a report showing an increase in the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics on factory farms, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter blasted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for failing to curb the misuse of these lifesaving drugs and called for immediate action to combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The FDA report found that sales of medically-important antimicrobials increased by 26 percent between 2009 and 2015.
WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25), the only microbiologist in Congress, released this statement following reports that President-elect Donald Trump is considering venture capitalist Jim O’Neill to head the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has broad regulatory authority that impacts everything from vaccines to medical devices and tobacco products to prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25), the only microbiologist in Congress, released this statement following reports of the first case in the United States of bacteria resistant to all antibiotics. Earlier this week, the Department of Defense notified stakeholders that its Multidrug-resistant Organism Repository and Surveillance Network (MRSN) had identified the first colistin-resistant E. coli in a person in this country.
WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25), the only microbiologist in Congress, released the following statement in response to the release of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). This final report from Lord O’Neill’s Review, established by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014, outlines ways to prevent drug-resistant infections and defeat the rising threat of superbugs worldwide:
WASHINGTON, DC —Today, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter released the following statement on the release of President Barack Obama’s final budget. Included in the proposal are several of Congresswoman Slaughter’s local and national priorities, including funding for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). The budget makes unprecedented investments in research and development that will benefit the Rochester region while including $2.9 trillion of deficit reduction over ten years.
With the release this afternoon of a report showing an increase in the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics on factory farms, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter blasted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for failing to curb the misuse of these lifesaving drugs and called for immediate action to combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The FDA report found that sales of medically-important antimicrobials increased by 23 percent between 2009 and 2014.
WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Louise Slaughter today called on California Governor Jerry Brown to sign key legislation that would enact first-of-its-kind limits on the routine overuse of antibiotics in otherwise healthy farm animals. In a letter to Gov. Brown, Slaughter urged him to sign SB 27, landmark legislation passed by the state legislature that would make California the first state in the nation to stop the misuse of medically important human antibiotics on factory farms. The governor has until Sunday to sign the bill into law.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter today pushed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to significantly expand and improve the data it collects on one of the largest drivers of antibiotic resistance: the overuse of these drugs on otherwise healthy livestock on factory farms. For many years, agribusiness and the pharmaceutical industry have rejected common-sense limits on the overuse of antibiotics by insisting we lack data to definitively link such practices to the development of so-called “superbugs”—bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Rep.