FDA Gives "Guidance" to Factory Farms and Drug Companies about Antibiotics



Today, the FDA announced it will ask livestock producers, drug companies, and veterinarians to limit their use of antibiotics to promote growth in food producing animals, according to the LA Times and other news sources.

Why?  As I have written about here before, as part of the group Moms for Antibiotic Awareness, more antibiotics are being used on livestock than in treating humans– and this use is creating dangerous superbugs resistant to antibiotics.  These endanger the public health, especially our children.  Our families will likely face longer illnesses, more side effects, and lives lost because of the unnecessary overuse of antibiotics to crowd livestock animals in filthy conditions so they can grow as quickly as possible.  
According to the LA Times:

“The FDA’s recommendations included guidelines to help the industry phase out the antibiotics for “production use” and transfer oversight of the drugs for therapeutic work to veterinarians (that is, require a prescription). The FDA also offered draft guidance to drug companies for labeling their products to require a prescription and draft regulations to allow veterinarians to authorize the use of “certain drugs” in feed.”

That is all well and good, but notice the words guidelines and guidance.  We all know what happens most of the time when we let massive business interests regulate themselves.  We get chemicals added to products before they have been proved safe. We get “acceptable” levels of lead in toys.  We get a decade of inaction on BPA, with contined legal use of this hormone disrupting chemical in the marketplace.  We get artificial food colorings that cause behavioral and attention problems in kids, in most food products marketed directly to children and families. 
Guidance, guidelines and recommendations simply don’t work to protect public health.  In today’s news, the FDA doesn’t actually require the livestock industry to do anything to stop endangering human health.
Most of the time, action is what solves problems.  How dramatic would the lowering of lead levels been in gas and paint if it was a recommendation instead of legislation?
According to the NRDC:

“FDA’s guidance will not help solve the problem because the guidance has no binding force: it is still entirely up to the livestock industry to decide whether to follow the recommendations or ignore them. And even if we hear encouraging promises from industry, there is no assurance that improvements will actually follow. In fact, based on what we have seen so far we fully expect that non-binding guidance will do nothing to change the overuse of antibiotics in healthy livestock. Why is that? We have essentially been using a system of voluntary action since public health risks were revealed over three decades ago. Also, the guidance has existed in draft form since 2010. There is no reason to expect different results from more of the same.”

So, it hasn’t been working… so let’s try it again? 
What happened to the FDA’s mission to protect the public health, and not factory farms, the fast food industry, and food packaging manufacturers?  
Again, I am sorely disappointed in the FDA’s inaction to protect the health of our citizens.  Please, prove me wrong.  Show me all the major meat producers that are not using antibiotics 6 months from now and I will happily retract this post.  
In the meantime, tired parents, try to buy meat from only local, organic farms.  And eat more vegetarian meals.  
What’s your take?  I’d love to hear from you. 
image:  http://www.animalwelfareapproved.org/2010/09/27/dairy-cattle-antibiotic-residue-review/

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