Ignoring its own warnings
The “subtherapeutic” use of antibiotics is standard practice in factory farms, and it is understandable. Any time members of a species are crowded into spaces too small for normal life, illness takes up residence. Stress, inappropriate feed (such as grain for ruminants) and poor sanitation (no matter how often crowded pens are cleaned) make animals more susceptible. Disease lowers profits. Subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics are the livestock industry’s insurance policy. They make it possible to continue crowding animals together to meet the huge demand for meat.
On June 28, 2010, the FDA issued guidelines calling for the voluntary reduction of antibiotic use in livestock production. The report cited studies from as far back as 1969 that raised red flags about antibiotic use.
The meat industry responded with its usual invective, and the guidelines remained in draft form. Eighteen months later the FDA has backed away from even the moderate suggestions they made to industry. Although the agency insists it “remains concerned about the issue of antimicrobial resistance,” the FDA plans only “voluntary reform” for the foreseeable future.
New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter posted a response on her website, writing: “We need to get our head out of the sand and start taking public health advice from scientists rather than industry lobbyists.”
That won’t happen without public pressure. Sign the petition below to send a message to the FDA that overuse of antibiotics on factory farms must stop.
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