California governor Jerry Brown Tuesday vetoed the first state bill in the nation seeking to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock production, encouraging the state’s Food and Agriculture Department to work with legislators “to find new and effective ways to reduce the unnecessary antibiotics used for livestock and poultry.”
Consumer and environmental groups hailed the decision, viewing the bill as too weak, according to a report by Chuck Abbott, Contributing Editor for the Food & Environment Reporting Network, “California governor vetoes ‘unnecessary’ livestock antibiotics bill,” which was published today on The Guardian.
“Nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics are used in animal production annually, according to a recent FDA count, or roughly 80 percent of all antibiotics used,” reports Abbott. “About 10 percent of the drugs applied to production are mixed into feed or water to promote livestock growth, according to an industry estimate.”
The White House on September 18th issued an executive order calling antibiotic resistance “a top national security and public health priority” and including a five-year plan to deal with the issue.
“Those who opposed the bill argued that livestock producers would continue to use the drugs in the name of disease prevention,” writes Abbott. “Routine use of preventive antibiotics, critics say, allows producers to crowd animals into unsanitary feedlots and barns, helping to breed drug-resistant bacteria, which can then infect humans.”
The FDA’s initiative set a three-year period for drug makers to end the sale of medically important antibiotics as a livestock growth promotant and to require veterinary approval of antibiotic use in the future. However consumer and environmental groups believe livestock producers would continue to use the drugs in the name of disease prevention instead.
Governor Brown noted in his veto message that at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the US each year.