SCHAUMBURG, ILL. – A warning against federal bans on the judicious use of antimicrobials in animal agriculture was issued on July 14 by the American Veterinary Medical Association (A.V.M.A.).

During testimony before members of the U.S. House of Representative's Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, the A.V.M.A.'s Dr. Christine Hoang said the A.V.M.A.'s stance is that such bans can have far-reaching impacts on both animal and human health. Ms. Hoang also emphasized the veterinarian's duty in promoting both public health and protecting animal health and welfare.

"With that comes the responsibility to be cognizant of the potential human impacts that may occur as a result of any decision we make," she told the subcommittee. "The veterinarian must always consider the individual animal; other animals and humans in contact with that animal; and, if it is a food animal, we must ultimately consider the people who consume the end product."

Veterinarians share the same concerns as their human health counterparts, Ms. Hoang reassured members of Congress.

"Yet," she said, "we also have additional concerns that must be considered, such as impacts on animal health and welfare, and even negative impacts on human health that are often unrealized."

Ms. Hoang testified the A.V.M.A.'s Antimicrobial Use Task Force recently concluded that veterinarians should be involved in the decision-making process for the use of all antimicrobials in animals, whether the drugs are obtained through prescriptions, Veterinary Feed Directives or over-the-counter.

"Without exception, the A.V.M.A. is supportive of measures to mitigate risks to human health associated with the use of antimicrobials in agricultural animals," she said. "To avoid potential diversion of resources away from more appropriate disease-control measures, we encourage a regulatory strategy that is based on science, risk-and-benefit analysis, risk management that is commensurate with the level of risk, and cooperation with all relevant stakeholders.

"The A.V.M.A. is committed to providing consumers with the safest food possible and to protect human health against the current risks without compromising the health of food animals," she said.