Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Grow a pair, FDA

Posted By on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 10:48 AM

I know there are people out there who would prefer that all regulations and laws disappear and that no new ones take their place. Back in Reality Land, laws are often needed to protect people from others who seek to benefit by hurting others.

Now, I don't think any farmers set out to hurt anyone when they began the practice of using antibiotics on animals decades ago. It probably made a lot of sense, actually. Healthier livestock, more to sell to the hungry masses — everyone wins.

Now we know better: The infusion of antibiotics into our food does hurt people, and it must be stopped.

Humans and animals are becoming antibiotic resistant, which is a huge, huge health issue. But instead of taking a firm stance and demanding change, the FDA is asking nicely. That sounds sweet on the surface, but I doubt it will make much of a difference.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is trying to get pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily stop providing antibiotics to promote livestock growth.

In a recent meeting with consumer advocates, the agency indicated it is negotiating with one company to remove growth promotion as a labeled use for one antibiotic.

The Obama administration earlier this year proposed to phase out the use of antibiotics to help hogs and other livestock grow more quickly. The administration is concerned that such usage is increasing the prevalence of drug-resistant bacteria that threaten human health.

FDA officials told the consumer advocates it prefers a voluntary approach over the lengthy legal process of restricting the drugs' use, said Steve Roach of Food Animals Concerns Trust.

The agency "seemed quite confident that some company was getting close to doing something," he said.

Read the rest of this Des Moines Register article, by Philip Brasher, here.

"The agency 'seemed quite confident that some company was getting close to doing something,' he said." — Oh, really? Thanks for the specifics.

Here's the thing: If the antibiotics we currently have fail us, we're kinda screwed. While there are a few stronger options out there, resistant bacteria are evolving faster than our science.

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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