(ANIMAL WELFARE) The FDA denied two petitions that would limit the amount of medications fed to farm animals. A shocking eighty percent of antibiotics sold in the US are fed to farm animals, which in turn poses a threat to human health. Read on for information on why this was a bad decision on the FDA’s part. — Global Animals
The Food and Drug Administration last month denied two longstanding petitions asking it to limit the routine feeding of antibiotics to farm animals, a practice that poses a serious risk to human health. Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in this country are fed to farm animals. The drugs make the animals grow faster, but their overuse increases the likelihood of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Some antibiotics are used only in animals, but farmers are also using antibiotics vital in human medicine. This is the class of drugs that the petitions, sponsored by several consumer advocacy groups, had hoped to restrict.
Rejecting these petitions is a bad decision that runs counter to the F.D.A.’s own research. Its studies — and the work of Margaret Hamburg before she became its commissioner — have shown the danger of feeding antibiotics to animals. In letters explaining its decision, the agency acknowledged that its own draft guidelines, released in June 2010, recommend limiting antibiotics to veterinary use to protect the health of animals on a case-by-case basis. But it says the review process involved in banning broad antibiotic use would take too long and would not be “resource-efficient.”
Instead, the guidelines for agricultural antibiotic use are voluntary. The agency wants the drug makers to police themselves, but they have no incentive to alter their practices and industrial agriculture certainly does not want them to do so. The petition denials make it clear that the F.D.A. is understaffed. But without government regulation and enforcement, the misuse of antibiotics in the farm industry will not change.
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