Antibiotic resistance hysteria isn’t working out for the greens.
In the wake of the Food and Drug Administration’s denial of petitions to limit the use of antibiotics in farm animals, the New York Times editorializes,
Rejecting these petitions is a bad decision that runs counter to the F.D.A.’s own research. Its studies — and the work of Margaret Hamburg before she became its commissioner — have shown the danger of feeding antibiotics to animals. In letters explaining its decision, the agency acknowledged that its own draft guidelines, released in June 2010, recommend limiting antibiotics to veterinary use to protect the health of animals on a case-by-case basis. But it says the review process involved in banning broad antibiotic use would take too long and would not be “resource-efficient.”
Instead, the guidelines for agricultural antibiotic use are voluntary. The agency wants the drug makers to police themselves, but they have no incentive to alter their practices and industrial agriculture certainly does not want them to do so. The petition denials make it clear that the F.D.A. is understaffed. But without government regulation and enforcement, the misuse of antibiotics in the farm industry will not change.
But there are no studies showing that antibiotic use in animals is making it more difficult to treat bacterial infections in humans.
So the FDA has instead figured out an enviro-friendly excuse — i.e., budget — that avoids having to reach a politically incorrect conclusion.