“The cynicism of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knows no bounds.
Just before the holidays, the agency, which is supposed to protect Americans’ health,reneged on a 35-year-old pledge to ban farmers from administering low levels (also called subtherapeutic levels) of antibiotics that are used to combat infections in humans to livestock, not to cure disease, but to increase the healthy animals’ growth rates.
The FDA went back on its word during a time when media outlets were short staffed and Americans too focused on last-minute holiday preparations to much about agricultural news. And it made its intentions known quietly in the Federal Register—hardly a volume on the average consumer’s must-read list—without even issuing a press release.
What a difference a couple of weeks make. With the new year only a few days old, the FDA issued a press release that was dutifully disseminated by news outlets including theNew York Times (one would expect better reporting from that source) with headlines like “FDA Restricts Use of Antibiotics in Livestock.”
In the release, the FDA proudly proclaimed that it had ordered livestock producers to stop administering low doses of a single class of antibiotics known as cephalosporins, which are used to treat strep throat, bronchitis, and urinary tract infections in humans. Furthermore, the FDA’s most recent move is nothing more than the belated (and watered down) enactment of a decision to ban cephalosporins that it made in 2008 that was retracted under pressure from agribusiness interests.
On the surface, even that might sound like reason to cheer. But dig a little deeper and it begins to look like this week’s release is nothing more than a smokescreen to cover up that pre-Christmas decision to roll back its order to halt to the routine administration to healthy livestock of all antibiotics that are beneficial to humans, a prohibition that would have included cephalosporins. It’s like a mugger stealing your wallet containg hundreds of dollars, handing you back subway fare home, and then telling you how generous he was….”