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USDA Chief Scientist Statement on WHO Guidelines on Antibiotics

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released recommendations regarding the use of antibiotics in agriculture. Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Acting Chief Scientist, today issued the following statement: “The WHO guidelines are not in alignment with U.S. policy and are not supported by sound science. The recommendations erroneously conflate disease prevention with growth promotion in animals."“The WHO previously requested that the standards for on-farm antibiotic use in animals be updated through a transparent, consensus, science-based process of CODEX. However, before the first meeting of the CODEX was held, the WHO released these guidelines, which according to language in the guidelines are based on ‘low-quality evidence,’ and in some cases, ‘very low-quality evidence.'"“Under current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy, medically important antibiotics should not be used for growth promotion in animals. In the U.S., the FDA allows for the use of antimicrobial drugs in treating, controlling, and preventing disease in food-producing animals under the professional oversight of licensed veterinarians. While the WHO guidelines acknowledge the role of veterinarians, they would also impose unnecessary and unrealistic constraints on their professional judgement."

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