July 23, 2018

Governor Brown Vetoes Bill That Would Curbed Antibiotic Use

California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have curbed the use of antibiotics on factory farms. He stated that most major producers already go beyond the voluntary FDA standards (guidance) for their use and wants to look for other ways to reduce sub therapeutic antibiotic use.

AntibioticsMost food safety and medical experts are unhappy with the FDA’s stance on this issue, pointing out that guidance documents do not go far enough and that actual rules and laws are needed to curb this growing problem. The Governor is, instead, directing the California Department of Food and Agriculture to work with the Legislature to find “new and effective ways to reduce the unnecessary antibiotics used for livestock and poultry.”

If the bill had been signed, it would have been the first time that a state law would have required a veterinarian’s prescription for animal antibiotics and phased out antibiotic use for growth promotion. The Natural Resources Defense Council applauded Brown’s move, stating “SB 835 … would have replicated a flawed FDA policy for curbing some uses of antibiotics in livestock production.”

NRDC stated that SB 835 “seemed too good to be true.” They said that the bill was supported by industry groups. While the bill ended the growth enhancement use of antibiotics, it still let farmers use the antibiotics for disease prevention as a “substitute for better animal living conditions and good husbandry practices” according to the agency’s statement.

NRDC also stated that the Animal Health Institute reported that growth promotion antibiotic use is a very small percentage of total use, so the guidance from FDA doesn’t really affect total sales. NRDC stated that “Governor Brown demonstrated extraordinary leadership in calling all stakeholders back to the table to find more effective solutions.”

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