Press Release: Hogan Administration Defies General Assembly by Failing to Address Irresponsible Antibiotic Use in Agriculture

    August 16, 2018

CDC Farm to Table Antibiotic Resistance

MDA’s Proposed Regulations for 2017 Law Allow for Continued Routine Antibiotic Use, Which Fuels Global Antibiotic Resistance Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 16, 2018

CONTACT:

Emily Scarr, Director, Maryland PIRG Director, emily@marylandpirg.org, 859-221-4213
Katlyn Clark, Staff Attorney, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, katlyn@waterkeeperschesapeake.org, 240-320-7711

Annapolis, Md – Public health advocates are crying foul over the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) long-overdue, proposed regulations to implement the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act of 2017. As written, the draft regulations are so weak that the overuse of human antibiotics on Maryland farms will likely continue.

“The proposed regulations contain a giant loophole that will eviscerate the law and do little to protect the public,” explained Senator Paul Pinsky, lead sponsor of the legislation. “The Hogan administration should go back to the drawing board on these regulations.”

Maryland’s Keep Antibiotics Effective Act (SB422), sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky and Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam and Del. Shane Robinson and Del. Clarence Lam, passed in the 2017 legislative session with the intent to curb the overuse of antibiotics in livestock by eliminating routine use of antibiotics in animals that aren’t sick. In the U.S., approximately 70 percent of human antibiotics are sold for use on animals. These drugs are often fed to animals that aren’t sick to prevent disease that can be caused by cramped or unsanitary living conditions on industrial farms. The legislation became law without Gov. Hogan’s signature.

Public health advocates say the proposed regulations fail to carry out the Legislature’s intent because they include a definition of “regular pattern” use that can be construed as allowing almost all uses of antibiotics in livestock who are not sick.

“An overwhelming bipartisan majority of the General Assembly supported the Keep Antibiotics Effective act to stop the overuse of antibiotics in Maryland farms,” said Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr. “We are deeply disappointed that the Hogan Administration has proposed regulations that undermine the intent of the law.”

Ending the routine use of antibiotics in agriculture has been identified by the World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, and other leading health groups as a key strategy to fight the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the number of antibiotic resistant infections in the country at approximately 2 million cases per year. Of those, 23,000 people will die as a result of the resistant infection. The annual cost in the United States of such infections exceeds $55 billion per year.

“We are disappointed in the Hogan Administration for succumbing to industry pressure at the cost of our health, particularly for vulnerable communities like children, the elderly, cancer patients, and the chronically ill,” said Alicia LaPorte, Campaign Manager of Fair Farms Maryland.

MDA is accepting comments on the proposed regulations until September 4th.

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