On January 4, 2012, the New York Times published an article applauding the FDA for regulating antibiotic use on livestock in an attempt to curb the increasing bacterial resistance to common antimicrobial drugs used to treat a host of human illnesses including pneumonia, strep, bronchial and urinary tract infections. This left us scratching our heads, as just the week before, the Guardian in the UK published an article reporting that during the holiday season, while no one was paying attention, the FDA quietly scaled back its regulations on antibiotics in animal feed.
So which is it? Well, if you know anything about the FDA, you would probably guess that the Guardian article was correct, and, you’d be right. The FDA’s decision was to continue to regulate one class of antibiotics called cephalosporins (which constitute a mere .3 percent of antibiotics used in animal feed), but to scale back its controlled use of all other drugs in hopes that industry would do the right thing and chaperone itself.
Sound familiar? How often, in recent years, have government agencies such as the FDA, USDA, and EPA deferred to corporations to police themselves? (See OCA alert: Stop USDA’s Plans for Monsanto to Police Itself! as just one example.)
Tell the FDA to do their job and regulate the reckless and irresponsible use of antibiotics on factory farms. Otherwise we might find ourselves in a time warp back to the 1920s, when simple things like cuts and minor infections could be deadly.