USDA Chief Scientist Responds to WHO Antibiotic Recommendations


The World Health Organization issued recommendations on the use of antibiotics in agriculture. Dr. Chavonda (sha-vohn’-dah) Jacobs-Young, Acting Chief Scientist with the USDA, says the WHO guidelines are not in alignment with U.S. policy and aren’t supported by sound science. “The recommendations incorrectly combine disease prevention with growth promotion in animals,” she says. “The WHO previously requested the standards for on-farm uses of antibiotics in animals be updated through an open and science-based process. However, before the process could begin, they released these guidelines based on low-quality and, in some cases, very low-quality evidence.” Current Food and Drug Administration policy says medically-important antibiotics should not be used for promoting growth in animals. FDA allows antibiotic use for treating, controlling, and preventing disease in food-production animals under the direction of veterinarians. Jacobs-Young says the WHO guidelines would impose unnecessary constraints on the judgment of the veterinarians that oversee antibiotic use. She adds, “USDA agrees that we need more data to assess progress on antimicrobial use and resistance, and we need to continue to develop alternative therapies for the prevention, treatment, and control of diseases in animals.”