Archive for the month “March, 2012”

More on the Factory Farms Antibiotics Use Ruling

Although it’s highly unlikely the meat industry will be able to show its current practices are safe, it may be months or even years before the court-ordered hearings even happen:

“The judge put the burden on the pharmaceutical industry to prove that its products are safe. Here’s the money quote from the decision: “If, at the hearing, the drug sponsors fail to show that use of the drugs is safe, the [FDA] Commissioner must issue a withdrawal order,” i.e., ban the drugs…

“As yet, there is no timetable on when the court-ordered hearings will take place. And getting the FDA to initiate them in an election year—when both Big Meat and Big Pharma will be pumping money into campaigns—may be tricky. “[T]he fight is far from over: further court proceedings will likely be required to establish a timeline for FDA to act, and FDA could appeal the decision which could delay action for months or even years,” NRDC attorney Avinash Kar wrote in a Friday blog post.”
via Tighter Rules for Factory Farm Antibiotics? Maybe. | Mother Jones.

I wonder if public pressure can expedite this process?  No doubt there will be Internet petitions urging the FDA to move on the process.  But how much effect can those actually have?  Not to be cynical, but in an election year, probably not much.

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Judge’s ruling may begin to curb antibiotics use with livestock

MSNBC and Time both reported recently on a ruling by Judge Theodore Katz, which could limit the use of antibiotics with livestock.  It’s not everything we could hope for, but it’s a step in the right direction.

“A federal judge ordered U.S. regulators to start proceedings to withdraw approval for the use of common antibiotics in animal feed, citing concerns that overuse is endangering human health by creating antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin proceedings unless makers of the drugs can produce evidence that their use is safe. If they can’t, then the FDA must withdraw approval for non-therapeutic use of those drugs, the judge ruled.”

via FDA must act to cut antibiotics from animal feed – Health – Food safety – msnbc.com.

And from Time.com:

“It’s not clear how big an effect the ruling will ultimately have on antibiotic use. The FDA has refused to put forward restrictions on drugs used specifically to prevent disease even if the antibiotics are delivered via food or water, and the ruling doesn’t address this either. Farmers may simply say that the drugs are being used to treat or prevent disease, and still go on using them. For its part the Animal Health Institute (AHI), a meat industry trade group, argued that the ruling would distract from an effort to collaborate with the FDA to stop growth promotion drug use. “It is unfortunate that time and resources will now be diverted to responding to the court decision,” the AHI said in a statement.

Still, even if Katz’s ruling is limited, it’s one more indication that Big Ag isn’t as all-powerful as it once was — and that change could be coming to American meat production.”

via Toward a Drug-Free Burger: Ruling May Curb Antibiotics in Meat – TIME.

Local Food Movement is Alive and Well in the Pacific Northwest

According to a new USDA report, the Pacific Northwest has some of the highest rates of local food sales in the country.  Way to go, Oregon and Washington!

Northwest farmers are some of the most successful in the nation in joining the local food movement. That’s according to a new report from the U-S Department of Agriculture.

Nationally, the study found that local food sales have grown to $5 billion a year. Oregon and Washington have some of the highest rates of local food sales in the country.

The report cites the region’s variety of fresh produce as well as a long-standing tradition of farmers’ markets. But the study notes that the vast majority of local food sales happen through grocery stores and restaurants.

via Northwest Embraces Local Food Movement · OPB News.

55 Congress Members Ask FDA to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

It’s so rare to find a story about multiple members of Congress “doing the right thing,”  it seems particularly newsworthy.  The fact that it involves requesting the FDA to begin labeling  GMOs is even more so.  If it only were 450 members, rather than just 55!

 “On Monday. March 12, 45 U.S. representatives and 10 U.S. senators signed a letter to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in support of a legal petition that asks the FDA to require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.

The petition, filed by nonprofit Center for Food Safety and supported by more than 400 health and consumer organizations and businesses, argues that consumers require more complete labeling in order to make informed decisions. Since October 2011, members of the public have submitted more than 850,000 comments in support of the petition.

Genetically engineered foods are foods made from organisms — mainly plants — that have had their genes modified to exhibit specific desired traits, such as tomatoes modified to delay ripening or corn with built-in resistances to herbicides and insects. Such foods have been sold on the market since 1996.”

via 55 Congress Members Ask FDA to Label Genetically Engineered Foods.

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