FDA Commissioner Discusses Antibiotics in Agriculture

March 17, 2016 06:04 PM

The Food and Drug Administration is “committed to a vibrant” agriculture industry and wise use of antibiotics in livestock and people, according to newly appointed FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D.

Califf shared his thoughts in an interview with AgriTalk in Washington, D.C., where he outlined where his agency overlaps with agriculture and specifically the new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). 

“We’re dealing with this very difficult, complex global problem of antimicrobial resistance,” explained Califf, who was trained as a cardiologist and most recently served as FDA Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco before transitioning into his new role at FDA last month.

Hospitals have seen more incidences of “superbugs” that are difficult to treat, Califf said, but because there are so many components to consider, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what areas of antibiotic use are responsible.

He suggested more research needs to be done on antibiotic use in livestock production. “Much like we’ve done on the human side, we want to develop better and better evidence of where (antibiotic use) is useful and where it is not" in animal agriculture, he said.

As a doctor,  he saw firsthand how antibiotics could be unintentionally overused in human patients, Califf said, and he thinks the situation is probably similar in animal agriculture.

“We’ve learned we can create a problem with antimicrobial resistance if we use antibiotics beyond the point they are really necessary,” Califf adds. “The point of this whole thing is that holds true from livestock all the way to the intensive care unit.”

He also acknowledged that antibiotics are a necessary tool in agriculture for treating sick animals. Califf also said that veterinarians will be an important part of implementing the VFD. 

Listen to Califf's full comments here:

Back to news




Spell Check

Rockford, IA
3/21/2016 02:21 PM

  When considering limiting the use of antibiotics, consideration needs to be paid to what other uses (human) that drug may be made. Many drugs used in livestock at very low levels have no use in treating disease in either humans or livestock.

3/17/2016 09:25 PM

  treating sick animals is one thing,mixing antibotics into the feed on a daily basis for "prevention" is crazy! put the blame where it belongs...feed lots.there is no cure for poor management

Norman, OK
3/17/2016 09:53 PM

  We put out an antibiotic in our feed for cow calf herd every year to help with anaplasmosis. Works great. Very rarely have a case and calves do great all the way to the kill plant. Most feed yards only use antibiotics on "fresh" calves and only for a short period of time. Another place the government wants to put their nose.


Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by QTInfo.com
Brought to you by Beyer