Wednesday, August 19, 2009

AVMA Responds to PEW Report

AVMA says Pew Commission report is flawed, unscientific
Response addresses commission's recommendations, advertisements

An AVMA report says recommendations by a prominent critic of industrial animal agriculture are unscientific and can actually threaten human health.

The document, available at, questions the validity of the content and review process for a report published in 2008 by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production ( on the sustainability of the nation's food animal production systems. The AVMA contends the report is not consistent with the well-documented, science-based reports that the Association has come to expect from the Pew Commission.

The AVMA response is being widely distributed, and members of Congress are among those who will receive copies.

The AVMA document, "The American Veterinary Medical Association Response to the Report of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production," was a product of members of eight volunteer leadership councils and committees and three staff divisions. The Pew Commission report, "Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America," was a two-year project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. David R. Smith, a professor and the extension dairy and beef veterinarian for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said it is important for the AVMA to provide veterinarians' perspective on the Pew Commission's conclusions. He said authors of the Pew report have been trying to raise awareness about their recommendations, particularly among members of Congress involved in antimicrobial use legislation.

Dr. Smith is one of the AVMA volunteer leaders who read the Pew report, evaluated the commission's recommendations, and crafted the AVMA's response. The Pew report is directly related to his work with cattle producers on issues of food safety, responsible use of antimicrobials, animal well-being, and the public health impacts of cattle management.

Dr. Smith said the Pew report lacks insight into animal health issues, why antimicrobials are used in food-producing animals, and the regulation of those antimicrobials. He hopes the AVMA report provides people with a critical look at the Pew Commission's recommendations and "whether acting on those recommendations would make the world a better place."

"Largely, our conclusions were that the Pew report was a superficial look at animal agriculture, and the recommendations lacked deep understanding of the issues involved," Dr. Smith said.

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The PEW Commission’s report was basically written before they had their first meeting. It was very predictable what was going to be in there. Many of the panelists had already stated their viewpoints and it was doubtful they would be changed. Written mostly on emotion and with a lack of scientific understanding, the AVMA has chimed in to offer their expert opinion. Many of the suggestions offered by the PEW Commission have the potential to endanger the livestock and our food supply. If they had been serious about crafting a report with any type of credibility, they would have filled the panel with people familiar with taking care of livestock.

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