The United States Food and Drug and Administration (FDA) has announced that after 34 years of attempting to regulate antibiotic use in meat meant for human consumption, they are throwing in the towel. Why, you ask? Because of enormous amounts of pressure from lobbyists representing the agricultural industry. Putting aside health concerns and the scientific evidence linking these antibiotics to “superbug” resistance in human beings, the FDA is now expecting livestock farmers to “voluntary reform” their care of the animals for the better. Right, like that’s going to happen. From International Business Times:
A coalition of medical and public health groups referred to the increase in salmonella outbreaks, as well as an abundance of other scientific studies and U.S. government reviews, in a September 2011 letter urging federal authorities — including the FDA, the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and President Obama’s Chief of Staff William Daley — to take action on the issue.
“The evidence is so strong of a link between misuse of antibiotics in food animals and human antibiotic resistance that FDA and Congress should be acting much more boldly and urgently to protect these vital drugs for human illness. In fact, government data show that the vast majority of antibiotics in the U.S. are sold for use in food animals, not people,” the letter states.
In 2009, the FDA itself reported that 70 to 80 percent of antibacterial drugs in the U.S. were sold for use in livestock animals to promote growth, prevent disease and treat illnesses caused by unsanitary conditions.
It may just be me, but I would imagine that with tens of thousands of people dying each year from anti-microbial resistance (AMR) in the U.S. alone, that regulating these antibiotics would be seen as a good and necessary thing by the FDA. However, money and pressure from corporations is often stronger than the principle of doing the right thing for everyone else, especially here in the United States.
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