FDA Takes One Step Forward, One Step Backward

Posted by Sasha Jones


The FDA has long fought to regulate and cut back the widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed, which has created resistant super bugs that cause approximately 100,000 deaths per year in the United States. Most recently, they issued a policy proposal urging that antibiotics should only be used for agricultural livestock under a veterinarian's supervision, in the case of natural illness.

Brian Merchant writes on Treehugger: 

This is another instance where the case seems so clear cut that it's hard to take arguments in favor of continuing to overuse antibiotics seriously. 100,000 people die every year so corporations can get more meat faster (and engage in animal cruelty along the way). Most people may not care about the impact of grotesque antibiotic use on animals, because folks just don't tend to engage emotionally with livestock -- but perhaps the outrageous number of human lives that are lost every year will resonate.

Infectious disease experts have been warning about antibiotic overuse for years now. Maybe it's time we take them seriously, and get behind the FDA, as well as the legislation drafted to banish antibiotics from agriculture.

But as Treehugger also pointed out today, the FDA's proactive stance on agricultural antibiotics is matched by a bewildering inaction concerning Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that might disrupt the endocrine system. The National Resources Defense Council has filed a lawsuit against the FDA for "its failure to act on a petition to ban the use of Bisphenol A in food packaging, food containers, and other materials likely to come into contact with food." Lloyd Alter quotes from the NRDC's press release: 

BPA is found in wide variety of products, including the lining of liquid infant formula cans, soda or beer cans, fruit or vegetable cans, and pizza boxes as well as consumer products made from polycarbonate plastics, including baby bottles, sippy cups, and reusable water bottles. More than 93 percent of the general population has some BPA in their bodies, primarily from exposure through food contamination and other preventable exposures.

BPA-free alternatives are already available and on the market. The FDA has no good reason to drag their feet on banning it," said Dr. Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist in the Environment and Public Health program at NRDC. "It's upsetting that food is most people's primary source of exposure to BPA. The FDA should act now to eliminate this unnecessary risk.

For more information on the lawsuit and on how to avoid BPA, check out the rest of Alter's article here. For the rest of Merchant's rundown on antibiotics, click here

Photo courtesy of Treehugger via MediaSpan.