California just passed a bill to sharply limit the use of antibiotics in farm animals, making it the first state to ban the routine use of the drugs in animal agriculture.
The law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday bans medically important antibiotics to promote growth in cows, chickens, pigs, and other animals raised for profit. Meat producers will only be able to administer the drugs with the approval of a veterinarian when animals are sick, or to prevent infections when there’s an “elevated risk.” They can’t use the drugs “in a regular pattern.” The policy is more restrictive than the FDA’s national guidelines, which don’t restrict use for disease prevention.
Overuse of antibiotics, both in medicine and in animal agriculture, contributes to the rise of drug-resistant superbugs that kill 23,000 Americans each year and sicken 2 million. Brown vetoed a weaker bill last year. The new law is a win for consumer and environmental advocates who have sought tougher rules for years.
…Consumer demand is driving more companies to kick the antibiotic habit. In March McDonald’s announced plans to stop selling chicken raised with antibiotics. One of its suppliers, Tyson Foods, made a similar commitment the next month. Foster Farms and Perdue are cutting back too. Wal-Mart is asking suppliers to do the same.
“I think we’re seeing the marketplace change, and this legislation will continue to push it in that direction,” said Jason Pfeifle, public health advocate at the California Public Interest Research Group, a consumer group that supports the new law.
Overdue? You betcha.
Like so many progressive policies which grew in size and strength among the general populace – until the two old parties recognized they need to get on board – we still will get to see the most backwards political hacks and pundits crank up their public whining machine. The self-proclaimed Freedom Caucus in Congress, no doubt the majority of Republican candidates for president, probably even the NRA will stand up for God, Country and the right to eat crap food.
I expect the ranks of cowards in Blue Dog caucuses in every Democrat Party in every state East of California will call for more study, preferably until after they reach retirement age or at least until after the next possible primary they might face.
Thoughtful human beings will rejoice – and spend their money buying meat from retailers smart enough to recognize a trend without needing Google to tell them when to do something healthy and modern.