We Waited 36 Years for This?
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.