Big Farma Convinces FDA to Take a Dive

January 10, 2012
Print This Post Print This Post

CP-antibiotics_w500Just as everyone was making last-minute holiday preparations, the FDA quietly announced they would no longer try to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in animal feed. An Action Alert update!

The so-called “preventive” use of antibiotics in livestock is routine and widespread. Factory farms use them to ward off illness in animals that are kept in overcrowded, filthy living conditions that are a perfect environment for the spread of illness. These antibiotics also promote increased growth in animals.

In fact, 80% of all antibiotics sold in US go into farm animal feed. Germs resistant to one or more drugs kill 100,000 hospital patients every year in the US, which costs the healthcare system more than $34 billion.

In the last eighteen months, the World Health Organization issued a global alert on the dangers of antibiotic-resistant superbugs; antibiotic-resistant bacteria sickened people in three states; and a study found that up to half of US meat was contaminated with antibiotic-resistant staph. The agriculture industry stridently opposes legislative and regulatory attempts to curtail antibiotic usage, making the absurd claim that the science is still inconclusive.

For the past thirty-five years, the FDA has supposedly been trying to curtail the routine use of antibiotics. Odd that such a long-lived and concerted effort by such a powerful agency has failed so miserably, isn’t it? In 2008, the FDA issued an outright ban of the cephalosporin for livestock. But the agency withdrew the plan after strong opposition from industry groups that wanted to preserve some uses of the antibiotic.

On December 22 (probably hoping no one would notice in the holiday craziness), the FDA quietly withdrew its three-decade-old request to remove antibiotics from animal feed. “FDA believes that by implementing [a voluntary compliance] strategy, it will achieve its goal of promoting the judicious use of antimicrobial drugs in a more timely and resource-efficient manner than could be accomplished otherwise,” the agency said in its announcement. “FDA’s experience with contested, formal withdrawal proceedings is that the process can consume extensive periods of time and significant amounts of Agency resources” [emphasis ours].

In plain English, FDA is saying that industry opposition makes pursuing a ban too expensive. Big Ag is opposing something that probably every single American, if you stopped them on the street and asked them, would be in favor of—and the FDA is listening to industry rather than the hundreds of millions of Americans who want food that isn’t laden with hazardous antibiotics.

Happily, people did notice that FDA had bowed down to Big Farma, and immediately made a ruckus. So last week, to appease public outrage, FDA imposed new (but extremely slight) limitations on antibiotics that will barely make a dent in the real problem.

The new rule limits some uses of cephalosporin in some animals, banning routine injections into chicken eggs, and large or lengthy dosing in cattle and swine. This rule is much less strict than the ban proposed in 2008, since it still allows veterinarians to use “off-label” antibiotics, and it doesn’t address small-scale-production animals like ducks and rabbits. Nor does it cover the use of penicillin and tetracycline in feed and water when used for promoting the growth of animals or preventing illness that results from unsanitary living conditions—a practice that accounts for the majority of antibiotic use in agriculture. Why are they used so widely? Because unlike cephalosporin, these antibiotics do not require a veterinary prescription.

When asked about the lack of a guideline for the use of penicillin, FDA Deputy Commissioner Michael R. Taylor—who just happens to be a former Monsanto executive!—said, “We’re hopeful that in the coming months, we’ll be able to carry forward on that work.” In other words, “That’s not on our current agenda.”

The FDA drastically (and perhaps purposefully) underestimated the number of NDI submissions that will be required under their proposed draft guidance for dietary supplements. If they don’t have the manpower, funding, or scientific clout to do something as simple as standing up to industry pressure on antibiotics in animal feed, how are they going to evaluate thousands of NDI submissions? Talk about skewed priorities! They can’t (or won’t) stop this dangerous practice, but they’re happy to waste their limited resources—and our tax dollars—attacking supplements

We say it all the time, but it bears continued repeating: Supplements aren’t killing people. Drug-resistant bacteria are.

HR 965, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, now has 74 co-sponsors, but the bill has been stalled in the Health subcommittee since March of last year. Please write to your representative and senators today about FDA’s inability or unwillingness to take substantive action, and ask them to take action on this important bill right away! Please take action today!

Take Action!

Click the link above to go to the Action Alert page. Once there, fill out the form with your name and address, etc., and customize your letter. We have a suggested message for you, but please feel free to add your own comments to the letter.

We’d also love to hear your comments about this article—just add your thoughts below—but remember that the messages below are only seen by our ANH-USA readers and not Congress, the FDA, etc.

12 Responses to “Big Farma Convinces FDA to Take a Dive”

  1. Richard Boes says:

    The FDA is a front for Big Pharma and any other corporation that has the money. Why should they let science, facts and deaths of 1000’s of americans get between them and their money? They should be abolished, they are doing just the opposite of what they were put in charge to do.

       0 likes

  2. Lynn Rios says:

    My partner and I hosted a webinar recently that addressed what we call antibiotic addiction, and talked a lot about how antibiotics have tainted our food supply and the danger of continuing this practice. Thank you for exposing the truth and taking a bold stand.

       0 likes

  3. Many municiple water supplies contain antibiotics, which make animals gain weigth. Some people might imagine they are not animals, so they wonder why they weight so much. The disgusting conditions many animalls have to endure ought to be criminal, but with a sold out USDA and FDA the American people and the animals continue to suffer. Remember, sub clinical doses of antibiotics cause animal to gain weiight. So with antibiotics in your meat and water expect to be over weight. – - – an organic grass fed bovine producer.

       0 likes

  4. DollySue Armstrong says:

    I read just recent that Monsanto spent 3 Million dollars in the last quarter lobbying Congress, this explains why. Appears our Politicians are bought, wouldn’t you say? Grrrrrrrrr!

       0 likes

  5. JDSEVENS says:

    This sort of thing causes me to lose hope in our society’s regulations and agencies that are supposedly “for the people” and to protect. What a joke

       0 likes

  6. GARY LAMPMAN says:

    I believe that this is a sham and a shameless act of FDA to side AGAINST SCIENCE!! Pharma and the FDA shall become collaborators in the Deaths of Human Beings whom die from contributing Factors. Caused by the abuse of ANTIBIOTICS USED AS A GROWTH HORMONE IN HEALTHY ANIMALS!!! Our Food supply is needlessly been inundated with antibiotics because Ag Confined Feeding Organizations’s are so confined that animals have to stand or lay in there own fecal matter. Force feeding cows corn and body parts from other animals. Virtually turning are food supply into; what is reserved for garbage disposals. 21 Million tons of antibiotics have been used OFF LABEL for 4 Decades and without any oversight or controls. Agriculture has been the culprit of using 10 times the Antibiotics than what is used by Humans. Twenty one Million tons each year times 40 years equals 840 Million Tons of AntiBiotics . That is a major impact on our society!
    It explains why people who have avoided any antibiotics have created antibiotic resistance due to ingestation of Animal Products. The FDA considers Risk to Benefit concerning product use and it is apparent the these uses of Antibiotics in Agriculture have become a greater Risk than a benefit.. As a citizen who has first hand seen the result of antibiotic resistance on my mother that turned to sepsis. A reaction to a antibiotic resistant pnuemonea; infection. . I must say,Im deeply distrubed by your failure to do send a message that these practices are no longer acceptable.

       0 likes

  7. Kathleen L. Guillaume says:

    The best action to take is at the grocery store. Walk up to the meat Department with your shopping cart and ask the butcher what meats they are carrying that is certifed not to have antibiotics and hormones. If they say “None”, then reply politely “oh, I am so sorry, I guess you can’t have my business, I don’t want those things in my meat supply” and walk away.
    When enough people do this they will get the message, and either start supplying meats free of antibiotics and hormones. The purse is the only thing agribusiness understands. it has got to come from the bottom up.
    Always be pleasant because they take you as a serious shopper, check in with them every several weeks to see if they are carrying anything acceptable to you. When enough of us do this agribusiness with change their business model. If we stopped buying anything that was not certified antibotic free and we built our base to where they could see a 10% drop in over the counter meat sales the message would start hitting home. You win each fight with baby steps.
    When that first person sat at a lunch counter “for whites only” they didn’t shought, that sat there politely and asked for the dignity of a meal,,,it took baby steps one person, then two then 8 then 20 then 100. That’s the path to permenant change.

       0 likes

  8. WickedPickle says:

    Corruption is blatant everywhere and with it, special perks.. So, it isn’t a surprise that the FDA join the chorus.. My gripe is the supplemental attack. These ‘watchers’ are about to destroy an industry which (in essence) is helping the average citizen and although we’ve stymied them (for a season) I know they’ll hump back on it the minute we’re not looking yet for things that are potentially deadly for a certain amount of people.. they hang out the shingle of “B’ness as usual”.. Politics.. Corporate fraud and abuse.. Now FDA apathy.. We need a change in the way our Country is governed (or at the very least, an informed voting public).. Their destroying us people, while their bank accounts buckle under from the massiveness of their (tax free) wealth.

       0 likes

  9. buck says:

    The FDA is unconcerned about the health of Americans , their only concern is taking financial care og big pharma or agriculture , big pharmacy , and big chemical companies that grease their palms .

       0 likes

  10. Mary Slayback says:

    Monsanto chemicals have been killing off the human population for years. Their chemicals are in our entire food chain – grains, meats, etc. I hope it costs them a lot of money to buy off so many members of Congress. How can we stop this? Do we all have to get out and march down Pennsylvania Avenue??? Remember this on election day.

       0 likes

  11. Dr. Richard Edlich says:

    The farmer should make the decision about using antibiotics in animal feed.

    Dr. Edlich

       0 likes

    • Tom says:

      Left up to the farmer? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. What kind of doctor are you. I’m willing to bet it’s not a MD.

         0 likes

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy:
ANH-USA provides a comment forum for our readers to share their constructive thoughts and criticisms about our newsletter articles and engage in civil debate with other readers. All comments are pre-moderated regardless of author. We never censor comments based on political or ideological point of view. We only remove those comments that are abusive, off-topic, use foul language, include personal attacks, or are otherwise discourteous and uncivil. Please do not post comments in ALL CAPS; on the internet this is considered "shouting."

 characters available

Follow us on...