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Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) has reintroduced to Congress an updated version of her Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) for review. The legislation focuses on reducing the amount of antibiotics used in factory farming in order to help preserve the efficacy of modern medicine and antibiotic effectiveness in treating human health issues.

According to Rodale.com, the legislation, which has not passed in previous congressional sessions, “aims to curb the use of antibiotics in factory farm settings because the unnecessary overuse is breeding hard-to-kill supergerms, rendering many of our most important antibiotics useless for human ailments.” PATMA would essentially wipe out non-therapeutic use of antibiotics and “end farmers’ practice of giving antibiotics to animals that aren’t sick.”

The widespread overuse of antibiotics in factory farm settings has led to a rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The World Health Organization recently issued a “post-antibiotic era” warning about the overuse of antibiotics, suggesting that it could bring a medical crisis where minor injuries or colds could lead to untreatable infections that lead to death. Already, antibiotic-resistant illnesses and infection are creating epidemic-scale concerns. According to Rodale, the most common infection, MRSA (methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus) “kills about 18,000 people a year in the United States—that’s more than AIDS. Gonorrhea is also on the verge of being untreatable, and many common antibiotics no longer cure urinary tract infections.”

Roughly 80 percent of the antibiotic supply in the U.S. is routed to animal use. In most cases, it’s not to treat an infection, but used as a preventative in industrial farm settings where animals are at high risk of injury and infection. The use of non-therapeutic antibiotics also increases animal growth and decreasing the amount of time it takes an animal to reach market size, which provides a financial incentive to farmers. According to Rodale, a recent FDA report found that “about 30 tons of antibiotics are fed to farm animals each year.”

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