You know that pathetic honking sound of forced gaiety that one of those paper party whistles makes? I swear that’s what I heard when the FDA’s recent news release, on the use of antibiotics in livestock, crossed my desk.
I’ve talked about the ballooning problem of antibiotic resistance in HealthierTalk before (“Steak with a heaping side of antibiotic resistance“). So you’d think the FDA issuing a statement on the subject would produce a bit more enthusiasm on my part.
The problem, however, is that this newly released 19-page draft guidance is, if you’ll pardon the cynicism, not even worth the paper it’s written on (and that’s also true if you read it online!).
New antibiotic guidelines…”This does not tell people what to do”
You see the danger of antibiotic-resistant bacteria being passed from livestock to people is not a newly discovered issue for the FDA. Not by a long shot. In fact, they’ve been aware of the problem—and have been voicing ineffective and toothless concerns about it—since 1977.
That’s over 30 years of FDA lip service, as Agri-business continued to pump antibiotics into the livestock that eventually ended up on your dinner table. By one estimate, 84 percent of all antibiotics are being used in agriculture and 70 percent of those are being used solely to promote animal growth.
In other words, any real changes would hit the drug companies right where it hurts… their overstuffed wallets.
After 60 days for public comment the FDA’s new “draft guidance” will become policy. So what exactly does that policy consist of? Well, in FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein’s own words, “This does not tell people what to do. It establishes principles and tells people how to achieve those principles.”
Principles. Not exactly the word that comes to mind when I think of Big Farming.
And, honestly, with the FDA snug-as-a-bug in Big Pharma’s back pocket we really shouldn’t be surprised that they refuse to take any meaningful steps to stop this dangerous practice.
So you’ll pardon me if their news causes me to yawn.
I’m reserving my enthusiasm for when the suggestions become real policies.