Dr Ruth Hall from CSIRO Molecular Science in Sydney, and a member of JETACAR, says the movement of genes between bacteria is facilitated by mobile genetic elements called `plasmids'.
`Avoparcin is really vancomycin by another name,' says Collignon, who is also a member of JETACAR. `In Australia, vancomycin was used to treat resistant Staphylococcus in humans, 15 years before avoparcin was approved for growth promotion in animals.'
Until the risk is quantified, we don't really know if the recommendations put forward by JETACAR are proportional to the risk.'
Similarly, Dr Kevin Doyle from the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and a member of JETACAR, says the evidence that resistance genes can move from animal bacteria to human bacteria isn't strong.
Most antibiotic growth promoters are now available in pre-prepared food, but JETACAR has recommended they come under veterinary prescription, where they will be subject to the ethics and accountability of professionals.