by Joe Rubin
A new bill in the California Legislature could give California the distinction of going where the federal government hasn’t — more strictly regulating the way that livestock are given antibiotics.
But the Freshman Assemblyman Kevin Mullin who is introducing the bill, AB1437, says getting it through the agricultural committee is a bit of long shot.
More than seventy percent of all antibiotics in the U.S are given to animals, often to healthy livestock. Until very recently drug companies marketed the growth-promoting benefits of antibiotics. And many meat producers, keen for additional profits and assured by pharmaceutical companies that the practice was safe for people and animals, would routinely add antibiotics to feed.
In December, the Food and Drug Administration, after years of debate on the issue, asked drug companies to voluntarily stop marketing the growth promoting benefits of antibiotics out of concerns for public health. The companies are largely complying. But critics like the National Resources Defense Council and New York Times food writer Mark Bittman have criticized the FDA’s approach as lax and unlikely to lead to any real change.