Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration systematically monitor the meat and poultry sold in supermarkets around the country for the presence of disease-causing bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. These food products are bellwethers that tell us how bad the crisis of antibiotic resistance is getting. And they’re telling us it’s getting worse…
In 2011, drugmakers sold nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics for livestock — the largest amount yet recorded and about 80 percent of all reported antibiotic sales that year. The rest was for human health care. We don’t know much more except that, rather than healing sick animals, these drugs are often fed to animals at low levels to make them grow faster and to suppress diseases that arise because they live in dangerously close quarters on top of one another’s waste…
It was not until 2008…that Congress required companies to tell the F.D.A. the quantity of antibiotics they sold for use in agriculture. The agency’s latest report, on 2011 sales…was just four pages long — including the cover and two pages of boilerplate. There was no information on how these drugs were administered or to which animals and why.
We have more than enough scientific evidence to justify curbing the rampant use of antibiotics for livestock, yet the food and drug industries are not only fighting proposed legislation to reduce these practices, they also oppose collecting the data. Unfortunately, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, as well as the F.D.A., is aiding and abetting them.
The Senate committee recently approved the Animal Drug User Fee Act, a bill that would authorize the F.D.A. to collect fees from veterinary-drug makers to finance the agency’s review of their products. Public health experts had urged the committee to require drug companies to provide more detailed antibiotic sales data to the agency. Yet the F.D.A. stood by silently as the committee declined to act, rejecting a modest proposal from Senators Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California, both Democrats, that required the agency to report data it already collects but does not disclose…
…Why are lawmakers so reluctant to find out how 80 percent of our antibiotics are used? We cannot avoid tough questions because we’re afraid of the answers. Lawmakers must let the public know how the drugs they need to stay well are being used to produce cheaper meat.
Overdue. Another example of reactionary politicians on the payroll of corporations dominating an industry establishing standards – or lack or standards – for that industry.
The not-so-reactionary politicians stand around and do little more than pat themselves on the back.
The bureaucrats in charge of enforcing regulations seem to work hardest at avoiding the implementation of regulations worth enforcing.
We pick up the tab.