Communities Speak Out Against Antibiotic Abuse on Factory Farms

For Immediate Release

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Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, kfried@fwwatch.org

Communities Speak Out Against Antibiotic Abuse on Factory Farms

WASHINGTON - After several decades of insufficient action to curtail the abuse of life-saving antibiotics on factory farms by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a string of American cities have spoken out against the practice in an effort to advocate for legislative action to address the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. At the urging of Food & Water Watch, eight cities have passed resolutions in support of national legislation to stop the use of unnecessary antibiotics in livestock – HR 1150, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) and S 1256, the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act (PARA). More cities are expected to adopt resolutions soon.

The vast majority of antibiotics sold in the U.S. (80 percent) are used for agriculture, and most of these drugs are routinely fed to animals to compensate for filthy, crowded living conditions on factory farms.

“The science is clear and the medical community is in agreement – unless we act soon to end the irresponsible use of antibiotics, they won’t work when we really need them,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “For years, Food & Water Watch and the public health community have advocated for legislation to rein in the abuse of antibiotics on factory farms. With little action in Congress, and inadequate response from the FDA, we’re helping to empower communities to take action.”

Food & Water Watch considers FDA's voluntary guidance for nontherapeutic use of antibiotics insufficient, as it will still allow antibiotics to be used in the same manner for disease prevention among factory-farmed livestock. This loophole will lead to continued development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

“Antibiotic resistance is a lot like the global warming crisis of clinical medicine," said Seattle Councilmember Mike O'Brien. "It's a serious problem which will only worsen unless we take immediate action at all levels of government."

Efforts to save antibiotics for medicine have faced resistance from corporate stakeholders. According to Food & Water Watch analysis of data provided by Open Secrets, between 2010 and 2013, organizations and companies that lobbied against PAMTA spent over $171 million on lobbying. Pharmaceutical companies and trade associations spent 72 percent of that total, with agriculture and meat interest groups and companies spending the remaining 27 percent.

Cities that have passed resolutions calling for an end to the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms include Red Bank, New Jersey; Providence, Rhode Island; Cleveland, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Seattle, Washington; Madison, Wisconsin; St. Paul, Minnesota and Secaucus, New Jersey.

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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