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AVMA Addresses Livestock Health Issues Before U.S. Congress

Saturday, September 27, 2008 General News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 The American Veterinary MedicalAssociation (AVMA) testified today before the U.S. Congress on advancements toanimal health in the livestock industry, describing for lawmakers progressmade improving public health and reaffirming the importance of treating foodanimals with antibiotic medicines.

Addressing the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture'sSubcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry, Dr. Christine Hoang, assistantdirector of the AVMA's Scientific Activities Division, explained thatsignificant safeguards to animal and human health have emerged as a result ofveterinarians' work with livestock.

"Our profession has made many advances in animal health and food safety-- in areas such as the development and implementation of animal diseasecontrol programs and biotechnology," Dr. Hoang said. "Other successes throughcollaborative efforts include a decline in foodborne illness from meat andpoultry products as well as a decline in the prevalence of foodbornepathogens, including Salmonella, associated with meat and poultry andresistance of those organisms."

The hearing also covered the judicious use of antibiotics by veterinariansand whether human antibiotic resistance can be linked to antibiotics used totreat food animals. The AVMA testified in June at a U.S. Senate hearing onantibiotic resistance and mollified concerns that the use of antimicrobials-- such as penicillin and tetracycline -- in food animals leads to humanresistance.

Dr. Hoang today reiterated the benefits of maintaining animal health withthe use of antibiotics. "Several risk assessments demonstrate a very low riskto human health from the use of antimicrobials in food animals, and moresignificantly, some models predict an increased human health burden if the useis withdrawn," she testified.

Additionally, Dr. Hoang told the committee that systems that monitor theuse of drugs in livestock are effective but need additional funding. The FoodAnimal Residue Avoidance Databank (FARAD) was highlighted as a critical -- butchronically underfunded -- program on which veterinarians, livestockproducers, state and federal regulatory, and extension specialists depend.

The AVMA's written testimony will be posted on the AVMA's food safetyadvocacy web site, http://www.keepourfoodsafe.org.

The AVMA and its more than 76,000 member veterinarians are engaged in awide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art ofanimal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site athttp://www.avma.org for more information.

SOURCE The American Veterinary Medical Association
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