Sign the Petition to Michael R. Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine

The FDA’s Guidance for Industry #213, (http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm378100.htm) asking drug makers to voluntarily change the labels on antibiotics used for livestock, and requiring farmers to get a prescription from veterinarians in order to buy antibiotics for farm animals falls far short of what is needed to protect consumers, the environment and the public health.

The American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition are among the over 400 organizations (http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/solutions/strengthen-healthy-farm-policy/pamta-endorsers-list.html) representing health, consumer, agricultural, environmental, humane, and other interests that have supported enactment of legislation to phase out nontherapeutic use in farm animals of medically important antimicrobials.

These organizations recognize the dangers posed by the overuse of antibiotics, such as including penicillin, azithromycin and tetracycline, that are critical to protecting humans from infection. Antibiotic resistance linked to food animal operations is on the rise. Studies suggest that hog farms are a source of a new strain (ST398) of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a disease responsible for more deaths per year in the United States than AIDS.

In 1998, the National Academy of Sciences noted that antibiotic-resistant bacteria generate a minimum of $4,000,000,000 to $5,000,000,000 in costs to United States society and individuals yearly.

The public has waited for more than 36 years for the FDA to take decisive action to control the use of antibiotics on factory farms. This latest guidance will do little or nothing to protect consumers and the environment. Please take stronger, mandatory action to phase out the routine use of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics, particularly those that are critical to protecting human health.

Signed,

Organic Consumers Association

More than 36 years ago the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged there was a problem with the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. In March 2012, a lawsuit forced the FDA's hand. Last week (December 11, 2013), the FDA finally announced a plan to curb the routine use of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to treat and fatten up livestock on factory farms.

But the mostly voluntary, loophole-riddled "plan" falls far short of what scientists say is needed to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that now pose a real and widespread danger to public health.

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y. 25th District), the only microbiologist in Congress and author of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), had this to say about the FDA's long-awaited plan: "The FDA's voluntary guidance is an inadequate response to the overuse of antibiotics on the farm with no mechanism for enforcement and no metric for success."

With at least 2 million people infected every year in the U.S. with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, resulting in 23,000 deaths, you'd think the FDA could come up with something better than a plan that relies on the good will of corporate agribusiness and Big Pharma to protect us. Then again, the fact that lobbyists from just a few groups spent over $17 million—just since the first of this year—to quash efforts to limit the use of antibiotics on factory farms might explain the FDA's thinking.

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