November 2, 2010
On October 20th, the FASS Science Policy program hosted a webinar entitled: “Antibiotics in Animals in People”. The webinar was led by Dr. Jim Pettigrew, a member of the FASS Science Policy Committee and lead coordinator for the recently approved FASS policy statement on antibiotics. Dr. Pettigrew provided introductory remarks and also summarized the FASS science policy statement on antibiotics. Dr. Billy Hargis, a poultry scientist from the University of Arkansas gave an overview of the issues and science surrounding the antibiotics debate. The webinar concluded with Dr. Bill Flynn from the Food and Drug Administration discussing the agency’s perspectives on antibiotic use in animals, including its recently released guidance on judicious use. The webinar was well-attended, reaching 100 people from academia, industry and government. The FASS Science Policy Committee is currently considering additional topics for webinars in coming months.
On October 13, 2010, FASS President Don Beitz sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in support of the agency’s science-based New Animal Drug (NAD) regulatory framework for the regulation of genetically engineered animals. FDA’s Guidance 187: Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals Containing Heritable Recombinant DNA Constructs has recently come under fire, particularly as it is being applied to genetically engineered salmon. The letter from FASS signals support for the FDA’s science-based process, without commenting on the merits of any specific application.
In September 2010, FASS sent a letter to Dr. Margaret Snyder of the National Institutes of Health regarding the FASS Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Teaching and Research and the ILAR Guide for the care and use of laboratory animals. The letter details concerns that the ILAR guide has numerous technical flaws related to the care of agricultural animals and that the FASS Guide provides a stronger scientific basis for making animal care decisions for agricultural animals. The letter further urges the NIH Public Health Service (PHS) to recognizes the FASS Guide as the most scientifically valid current resource document for agricultural animal care and to not accept the ILAR Guide as a required document for agricultural animals in biomedical or agricultural research. In October, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition sent similar letters to NIH urging support of the FASS Ag Guide.
Members of the American Society of Animal Science Executive Committee and Public Policy Committee met in Washington on October 25-26. In addition to Executive Committee business, the group took advantage of being in Washington by meeting with a number of key federal agencies. Meetings were conducted with the Food and Drug Administration, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Agency for International Development. The meetings provided a good forum to build relationships with agency representatives and share relevant FASS science policy statements. The group also had detailed discussions about energizing an effort to conduct a new “Food Animal Integrated Research” (FAIR) type process to identify collective priorities for animal science research. This is seen as important and timely, given recent changes to USDA research programs at NIFA and the impending development of the next Farm Bill.