In a desperate attempt to avoid implementing an actual ban on the non-therapeutic use of antibiotic drugs in factory animal feed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has once again made it abundantly clear that it favors corporate interests over public health. In a recent announcement, the FDA publicly petitioned the factory food industry to voluntarily stop using antibiotics, claiming that this hands-off, non-regulatory approach will somehow be more effective at curbing antibiotic overuse than a mandatory ban would be.
The announcement comes just weeks after a federal judge took the FDA to task for its blatant disregard for public health, and ordered the agency to begin withdrawing approval for the non-therapeutic use of certain antibiotics in animal feed (http://www.ucsusa.org). But instead of stepping up to the plate to fulfill these federally-mandated legal duties, the FDA has instead chosen to stage a meaningless publicity stunt that will do absolutely nothing to fix the problem.
Meanwhile, the drug companies that produce penicillin and tetracycline, the two antibiotics ordered by the federal judge to be banned, have the opportunity to challenge the ruling. But if they fail at an evidentiary hearing to prove the drugs’ safe and effective use in animal feed, which they likely will be unable to do, then the FDA will not get away with simply requesting that the food industry withdraw the drugs’ use — on the contrary, the FDA will be required to ban their use in accordance with the law.
“For the past 35 years, while advocates and citizens alike have been urging FDA to take action, the problem has steadily worsened and FDA has sat on its hands, which begs the question of whose interests the agency is protecting,” said Margaret Mellon, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists‘ (UCS) Food & Environment Program, in a statement. “The FDA has known since the 1970s that the routine use of powerful antibiotics in livestock leads to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which cause infections that are more difficult to treat in both people and animals.”
FDA plays word games to conceal itsselling out tothe factory food industry
The FDA really has no valid excuse as to why it has deliberately failed for more than 35 years to address the problem of non-therapeutic antibiotic use in factory animal feed. And now that the public is finally catching on to the FDA’s cozy coalescence with the factory food industry, the agency is being forced to at least acknowledge the issue.
But rather than acknowledge it in a sound and reasonable way, the FDA has resorted to playing word games that completely dodge the issue. Despite the fact that a federal judge has already ordered the two most common antibiotic culprits to be banned, for instance, the FDA is now claiming that this voluntary approach will perform the same function without the need for litigation.
“The new strategy will ensure farmers and veterinarians can care for animals while ensuring the medicines people need remain safe and effective,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is quoted as saying in a recent Reuters report.
Huh? Farmers and veterinarians will still have the ability to “care for animals” following a ban on non-therapeutic antibiotic use, hence the “non-therapeutic” designation. And yet Hamburg would have us all believe that simply asking the industry to regulate itself will somehow better address the problem than actually regulating it. Do not be fooled by such nonsense.
Sources for this article include: