Senators unveil bipartisan bill to restrict use of antibiotics in food animals

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The agricultural and animal drug industries say current practices are safe and keep animals healthy. A new study of E. coli in the scientific journal Microbial Drug Resistance, however, raises concerns that low doses of antibiotics, of the sort administered on U.S. farms to promote animal growth, create the "greatest risk" of promoting drug-resistant bacteria.

"The extensive use of antibiotics in the agricultural sector has turned farms into sources of resistant microbes," the study says. "The resistance selected for in the agricultural setting may be a direct threat as zoonotic agents become resistant or it can be indirect as it is eventually transferred from animal commensals to human pathogens."

The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinDem senators accuse Trump of purposefully holding back information Flynn refusal sets up potential subpoena showdown No. 2 Senate Republican downplays holding contempt vote on Flynn MORE (D-Calif.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP senators bristle at Trump's Medicaid cuts GOP senators knock Trump's budget proposal Russia probes in limbo after special prosecutor announcement MORE (R-Maine), Jack ReedJack ReedIntel chief quiet on whether Trump asked him to deny Russia evidence Dem senators push for probe of Sessions over Comey firing Overnight Finance: Trump floats tying tax reform, infrastructure | Trump trade rep confirmed | Dems raise concerns over banking regulator | House to kick off tax reform hearings MORE (D-R.I.) and Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTime is now to address infrastructure needs Tom Steyer testing waters for Calif. gubernatorial bid Another day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs MORE (D-Calif.). It was immediately praised by the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming.

"The emergence of drug-resistant superbugs is a human health problem that affects us all," said Laura Rogers, the program's project director. "We commend Senator Feinstein, Senator Collins, Senator Reed and Senator Boxer for their bipartisan collaboration to ensure that our antibiotics will work for us when we need them most."