The Ramblings of Annie Abalam

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The FDA is making moves and taking names… sort of.

on April 23, 2012

Marion Nestle’s post “The FDA takes action on animal antibiotics, at long last” discusses the FDA’s recent attempts at minimizing uses of antibiotics in food producing animals.  According to Nestle, the FDA is “asking drug companies to voluntarily cut back on producing antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes and to require veterinary oversight of use of these drugs.” The FDA’s token phrase is “judicious use” in their press release.  By judicious use, the FDA means that drugs should only be used for medical purposes – meaning treatment of an ailment – and not just for the sake of increasing production.  The FDA has decided to take a stand on this issue because they realize that the use of antibiotics poses a threat to human health.  It has taken them an ungodly amount of time to even ask producers, but that is a different issue.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) responded with common industry arguments:

  1. Some farmers in rural areas do not have access to veterinarians.
  2. Although the FDA is currently merely suggesting that farmers cut back on antibiotic usage, it will be treated as law.
  3. NPPC believes that the research behind the proposition is “junk”.  In their opinion, the amount of health risks associated with consumption of antibiotics in meat is minimal.

I have a couple of responses to the NPPC’s “arguments”.

  1. If you do not have access to a veterinarian, you should not own a single animal.  For once, a government agency is doing something that will (albeit unintentionally) aid farm animal welfare.  There is no reason for an animal to not be able to see a vet.  Theoretically, this could lead to more profits for the farmers, but I will not go down that path.
  2. I am surprised that this is not being put into law, but I’m sure state capture has something to do with that.  Still, if that is not feasible for the time being, big deal.  Maybe the fact that farmers are being coerced (in a weird way) to not shove antibiotics down animals’ throats will lead to them finding better ways of raising them.  Maybe if you didn’t have them in painfully close quarters, breeding all kinds of disease and misery, they would not be so susceptible to illness.
  3. The NPPC is junk! Seriously though, if research has proven for years that antibiotics are bad for humans, wouldn’t you think there is some validity in it?

None of what I have said is rocket science or terribly insightful.  I know that.

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