Too little, too late?
It was 35 years ago that the FDA first proposed a ban on dosing livestock with antibiotics for the purpose of boosting their growth. They had officially concluded that giving low-dose antibiotics to livestock to promote weight gain rather than to treat illnesses could lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So they decided that something must be done.
And then… nothing was done. The proposal was both the beginning and the end of it–not a single hearing was held following that initial 1977 move.
In fact, it was only a few days ago that it started to look like progress could actually be made on ending this practice, which has done untold damage to public health as one of the roots of our terrifying “superbug” problem. A federal judge told the FDA that it needs to move ahead with banning the growth-promoting use of antibiotics in livestock.
It’s amazing that it’s taken this long to get moving on putting a stop to one of the roots of the creation of antibiotic resistant pathogens. The evidence has piled high over the years: The widespread use of antibiotics has serious negative consequences for human health.
The truth is, by not doing ANYTHING after their 1977 proposal, the FDA allowed the threat to increase for the next 35 years. And I’m afraid we’re now looking at a serious case of too little, too late.
Sure, we can end the overuse of antibiotics… and we should! But can the damage ever really be undone? I’d like to be optimistic, but I’m afraid the answer to that question is no.
The judge’s decision came as the result of a lawsuit filed by a powerhouse group of advocacy organizations including the National Resources Defense Council, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen, and Union of Concerned Scientists.
Of course, before anything can be done, the makers of the antibiotics get to have a chance to put on a show. Their goal will be to prove that their creations aren’t harmful. If they can’t make their case, the FDA Commissioner must issue a withdrawal order for the drugs.
At which point we’ll surely see a lot of kicking and screaming from the meat industry (not to mention the drug companies that stand to lose substantial income if this passes).
And even more time will pass as they fight the ban–and all the while our collective health will continue to be threatened.
And you and I both know what happens when the FDA gets some industry pressure applied–they tend to crack.
Which is why it will be important for us to raise our voices. The door has opened a crack–it’s time to fling it open. Once this fight gets fired up, we’ll need to send a clear message to the FDA: Don’t cave in to Big Pharma or Big Farm forces. Do the right thing, even if it’s 35 years too late.
P.S. Keep reading for how to protect a healthy heart without a daily aspirin.
“Judge to FDA: Revive Proposal to Restrict Animal Antibiotics,” Food Safety News (foodsafetynews.com)
“FDA Told to Move on Antibiotic Use in Livestock,” MedPage Today (medpagetoday.com)