FDA Seeks “Voluntary” Antibiotic Regulations

Dina ElBoghdady of The Washington Post reports:

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday finalized a plan that would ask drug companies to voluntarily limit the use of certain antibiotics in animal feed, citing long-held concerns that their overuse in livestock promotes the development of drug resistant bacteria that can infect people.

I can see drug companies agreeing to this, since they’re totally dependent on good relations with the FDA for future drug approvals. But this approach is nevertheless doomed to fail, and the FDA certainly knows it. ElBoghdady continues:

The FDA is asking drug companies to revise their product labels and remove growth-promotion in animals as a permissible use, a plan that the agency said many drug makers are willing and ready to adopt.

Of course they’re willing to adopt this useless plan. The outcome here is totally predictable: factory farms will suddenly claim they need medicated feed to fight widespread infection, rather than simply to boost growth.

The FDA isn’t being foolish here in trusting factory farms to do the right thing—the agency knows full well that factory farms will circumvent this toothless request. They’ve basically bought the industry at least another year in which it can maintain current antibiotics use, until this story catches fire again and the public demands legitimate regulations. What a sham. (Via Simon.) Link.