A variety of agricultural groups responded to the news that President Obama had signed an Executive Order on Sept. 18, directing key federal departments and agencies to take action to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Obama administration also released its National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. In addition, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is releasing a related report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance.
National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Howard Hill issued a statement in the wake of the announcement. Hill said, “In its executive order on combating antibiotic resistant bacteria, the White House acknowledged something that the National Pork Producers Council has been saying for years: More epidemiological research is needed to understand the key drivers of increased antibiotic resistance.
“America’s pork producers, who abide by a strict antimicrobial stewardship program outlined in the industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) certification program, are committed to protecting public health and producing safe food. They work hand-in-hand with veterinarians to minimize the need for and use of antibiotics, particularly antibiotics important in human medicine. And all antibiotics used in pork production are approved by FDA.
"NPPC is pleased that the administration agrees that more research is needed and looks forward to working further with FDA and USDA on determining the most informed and appropriate solutions for combating antibiotic resistant bacteria."
The American Meat Institute (AMI) also issued a statement pertaining to the antibiotic announcement. Betsy Booren, Ph.D., AMI vice president of Scientific Affairs, said, “We appreciate the White House’s careful look at the complex issue of antibiotic resistance and we share the view that antibiotics are assets to human and veterinary medicine that should be used thoughtfully and appropriately.
“The recommendations that have been shared echo what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conveyed last year -- that you cannot attack a complex problem in a simple manner and that we must employ a multi-faceted solution. Our industry certainly plays a role in that solution, along with the medical community and others. As both the White House and CDC note, the greatest threat to public health is the overuse of antibiotics in humans, though the agriculture industry needs to ensure judicious use of antibiotics as well.
“We support the steps that have been taken by the FDA to seek the phase out of antibiotics to promote growth and to increase veterinary oversight, moves which are consistent with protecting both animal and public health. It is encouraging that all 26 companies that make animal health products have pledged to comply with this FDA policy.
“As the reports say, much more needs to be learned about how resistance is being developed and spread through various channels. We support further research and data collection to help ensure that the correct antibiotics are used in the correct circumstances in both human and animal medicine in order to best reduce antibiotic resistance in all populations.”