Friday, May 30, 2014

Antibiotic ban has huge loophole

The bans on using antibiotics as growth promotants for livestock and poultry are almost meaningless, argues lawyer Ron Doering, the first president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The bans were announced by regulators and pharmaceutical companies earlier this month.

But Doering says the bans are meaningless because farmers will still be allowed to use low levels of antibiotics as a disease-prevention measure.

Whoever thought up the brilliant public relations move to announce a ban ought to be fired immediately because it has robbed the industry of credibility. Who will trust the agriculture and food industry after this?

Doering notes that the Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that 90 per cent of antibiotic use on farms is for disease prevention.

Presumably the other 10 per cent is for the treatment of bacterial diseases and infections. That leaves nothing under the heading of “growth promoting”.

He also says regulation is difficult in Canada because of the split jurisdictions between the federal and provincial governments.

And then there’s the matter of farmers freedom to import drugs and medications for their own use, a gaping loophole that Doering does not address in his regular column.