The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just issued draft measures to limit the overuse of antibiotics on industrial livestock operations or “factory farms.” This is big news! By eliminating the overuse and misuse of antibiotics and reducing the prevalence of antibiotic resistance, we are saving antibiotics and allowing them to remain effective for treating sick people and animals.
While the action of the FDA is a welcome step forward, the guidance documents fall short.
The agency has failed to adequately address the massive overuse of the drugs to compensate for the effects of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions--uses sometimes referred to as "disease prevention."
The FDA is accepting comments on these documents until July 12 – next Thursday. Let the FDA know that they should work in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help livestock producers first solve crowding and sanitation problems by changing practices before resorting to antibiotics. The FDA also needs to provide a plan for how they will monitor antibiotic use and resistance rates to measure the effectiveness of these measures.
Antibiotics have a place on the farm — when they're needed to treat sick animals — not to promote a system that puts us all at risk. Don't let the irresponsible use of antibiotics continue to give industrial factory farms an unfair advantage over family farmers who manage their animals more responsibly.
Want to get involved? Write to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, asking FDA to close the loopholes in these documents so that life-saving antibiotics are no longer misused on industrial farms. In your letter, refer to Guidance 209 (Docket No. FDA-2010-D-0094), Guidance 213 (FDA-2011-D-0889) and Veterinary Feed Directive; Draft Text for Proposed Regulation (Docket No. FDA-2010-N-0155). All correspondence must be received by July 12th. Send your letter to: Center for Veterinary Medicine, Communications Staff (CVM), Food and Drug Administration, 7519 Standish Place, HFV-12, Rockville, MD 20855.
You can also visit the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming website to submit a comment via the web.