A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill (S. 1211) aimed at phasing out routine use of antibiotics in food-producing animals. Spearheaded by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) is identical to a House bill (H.R. 965) introduced earlier this year by U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who has championed such legislation since 2007.

PAMTA “addresses the rampant overuse of antibiotics in agriculture that creates drug-resistant bacteria, an increasing threat to human beings,” Feinstein noted in a press release. The legislation would also (i) “require new applications for animal antibiotics to demonstrate (that) the use of the antibiotic will not endanger public health” and (ii) “not restrict the use of antibiotics to treat sick livestock or to treat pets.” The bill’s provisions would limit agricultural use of seven types of antibiotics identified by the Food and Drug Administration as “critically important in human medicine to ensure that antibiotic-resistance is not inadvertently accelerated,” Feinstein said.

“The effectiveness of antibiotics for humans is jeopardized when they are used to fatten healthy pigs or speed the growth of chickens,” she said. “This is a basic food safety initiative that would phase out the misuse of these drugs so that food in supermarkets across America will not spread strains of drug-resistant bacteria.” See Press Release of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, June 17, 2011.