Last year, Governor Brown used the presence of new federal regulations, and the promise of overachieving compliance in California, as reasons to veto state legislation outlawing the routine use of antibiotics in livestock.
Last week, he signed similar legislation, creating the strictest law in the nation.
Senate Bill 27 “addresses an urgent public health problem,” Brown wrote in his signing statement. “The science is clear that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock has contributed to the spread of antibiotic resistance and the undermining of decades of life-saving advances in medicine.”
No more over-the-counter antibiotics for livestock.
The new law will require a prescription from a veterinarian for the use of therapeutic antibiotics on livestock. It bans the use of low-level antibiotics for anything, including maintenance and prevention. And someone will have to keep track of what drugs the animals do get and report it.
That’s a far sight stronger than the federal regulations that are largely voluntary and easy to manipulate. Low-level doses are often used to maintain animal health in the face of inhumane conditions that produce disease and infection.
But it’s all in a good cause. Around 80% of the antibiotics used in livestock is for nontherapeutic reasons. The drugs aren’t curing a malady, they are enhancing the product. It’s been that way since scientists first realized in the 1950s that chickens plumped up when shot up with antibiotics.
A regimen of antibiotics hides many faults.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knew in the 1970s that this expanded use of antibiotics had health consequences, but proposals to do something about it did not move forward.