After years of prodding from the scientific/medical community, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be directing farmers to cut back on the antibiotics. You can read more in this very informative New York Times article.
Currently large farms use two main livestock antibiotics: one to vaccinate livestock and another to boost growth. The federal government’s potential guidelines will only address growth drugs, which sounds like a good start that’s consistent with what’s being done overseas.
First, many Americans are concerned about growth hormones/drugs. For years, people have wondered aloud if there was a correlation between meat consumption and early maturity in kids (five-year olds aren’t supposed to have mustaches, right?) and if additives in meat increase cancer risks. There’s been explosive growth in the organic and locally raised meat industry. The concern is there. Great to see the government is being responsive.
Reducing antibiotics is good news for moderate- and low-income families. Meat is a staple for most American families. More people and families want to eat drug-free foods but can’t afford to sell their first born child to shop at Wholefoods, where organic products are widely available. This potential ruling means more families could access healthier foods that fit their budgets.
Listening to science is a good thing. For the past 40 years, scientists and the medical community made it clear that antibiotics were bad for public health. The NYTimes piece detailed how using these products increase the growth of superbugs that are difficult to kill, are risky to eat (if not cooked or handled properly) and are consumed by us. [To be honest, the more I learn, the more grossed out I am because I EAT MEAT!] The article says our over-reliance on antibiotics plus food consumption equals a major public health disaster. The government’s potential directives would not address all livestock drugs, but it’s an important move based on mainstream science, for a change.
Obviously, the FDA’s upcoming regulations are not without controversy. For now, it represents a move that’s pro-health, pro-family and pro-consumer. To learn more or take action, check out Healthy Child, Healthy World, Center for Science in the Public Interest or Pew Charitable Trusts.
- Can the FDA Get Livestock Off Drugs? (food.change.org)
- “Livestock industry wary of FDA’s crackdown on antibiotics” and related posts (irjci.blogspot.com)
- FDA urging limited antibiotics in meat (sfgate.com)