Archive for the tag “food policy”

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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FDA gives up on antibiotic restrictions in livestock

As these excerpts from a Grist article make clear, it is maddeningly difficult to make changes in national food regulations, despite conclusive evidence that “business as usual” is injurious to the public health.

I admire and support  the organizations who keep up the fight, despite year after year of defeats.  In the meantime, I am grateful to have the option of buying local, antibiotics-free, grass-fed meat from farmers and ranchers I know and trust.   I can’t change national policy, but I can try to make the option to buy healthy, local meat  more readily available for more Portland-area residents in 2012.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pulled a Scrooge move just before Christmas. The agency published an entry in the Federal Register declaring that it will end its attempt at mandatory restrictions on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. The agency isn’t advertising the shift, though: This news would have remained a secret if not for Maryn McKenna’s Superbug blog over at Wired. McKenna, who specializes in writing about antibiotics and their link to pathogens, caught the Federal Register notice.

This is a sorry end to a process that began in 1977 (!), but McKenna created an excellent timeline that traces the history of the issue back to the 1950s. In 2009, the Obama administration breathed new life into a moribund process because the top two Obama appointees at the FDA, Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and her then-deputy Joshua Sharfstein, strongly supported restricting antibiotic use in agriculture.

But despite Hamburg and Sharfstein’s many supportive statements, the FDA has only produced a draft set of “voluntary” guidelines. And, with this latest announcement, it looks like that’s as far as they’re willing to go.

Inaction has consequences: According to the vast majority of microbiologists and public health experts, restrictions on agricultural uses are key to preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics as well as to preventing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA and salmonella Heidelberg (cause of last summer’s record-breaking ground turkey recall). And it’s no small dosage: Every year 29 million pounds of antibiotics are given to animals — often via their feed. That figure represents 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S.”

via Scrooged: FDA gives up on antibiotic restrictions in livestock | Grist.

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