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Author of California bill defends using antibiotics to prevent disease

California lawmakers passed SB-835 (Food animals: medically important antimicrobial drugs), which mirrors the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Guidance 213 (covered in Influence Feed edition “Real Voices“), reports the latest edition of Influence Feed.

Like the FDA’s recommendations in Guidance 213, this bill limits use of medically important antibiotics in livestock to treatment, control and prevention, outlawing their use as growth promotants.

Opponents of the bill within activist groups such as Sustainable Table criticized (PDF) the bill for being too weak.

Jonathan Kaplan of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) articulated critics’ argument for limiting antibiotic use to treatment only, and not prevention: “We need laws to stop the practice of giving animals that are not sick low doses of antibiotics in their feed day after day.”

However, the bill’s author, state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), argued in The Sacramento Bee in favor of using antibiotics for prevention.

“[Critics] argue that SB 835 should also make it illegal to use antibiotics in livestock for preventative purposes. However, preventative use can be judicious,” he wrote in the editorial.

Hill noted that antibiotics are often given to humans for preventative purposes prior to surgeries. “Just as humans are given prophylactic antibiotics when a doctor deems it necessary, there are situations in which a veterinarian may determine that livestock need prophylactic antibiotics,” the senator added.

“Veterinarians are sworn to protect ‘animal health and welfare’ and to use their training for ‘the prevention and relief of animal suffering.’ We cannot simply remove a tool that veterinarians use to uphold their oath,” Hill said.

Visit Influence Feed for more industry trends and insights from key opinion leaders.


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