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Government Science

FDA Backtracks On Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Proposal 172

Posted by samzenpus
from the mirsa-meals dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The FDA recognized, 35 years ago, that feeding animals low-doses of certain antibiotics used in human medicine — namely, penicillin and tetracyclines — could promote antibiotic-resistant bacteria capable of infecting people who eat meat, and proposed to withdraw approval for the use of those antibiotics in animal feed. Instead of acting upon the proposal, the FDA has now withdrawn it. Although admitting that it continues to have 'concerns' about the safety of the use of antibiotics in animal feed, the FDA says that it will just continue to rely on 'voluntary self-policing' by the industry, the same method which hasn't worked out too well during the past 35 years, as antibiotic use in livestock and antibiotic resistance have continued to rise throughout the entire period."
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FDA Backtracks On Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Proposal

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  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:21AM (#38524808)

    FDA continues to admit it's useless and just likes to thrash its arms about in a non threatening manner. I guess I'm not surprised.

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fredrated (639554) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:33AM (#38524874) Journal

      I think the problem is that the FDA has lost it's resistance to corporate sponsored corruption.

      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jythie (914043) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:37AM (#38524906)
        The FDA does what congress tells them to do, and getting (re)elected requires massive amounts of capital.
        • by JBMcB (73720)

          FDA Health & Human Services Cabinet President

          Not congress. Congress can pass laws telling them to regulate stuff, but it's up to the secretary (and the president) to manage the day-to-day operations.

      • by geekmux (1040042)

        I think the problem is that the FDA has lost it's resistance to corporate sponsored corruption.

        I hate to be a grammar nazi here, but I believe the proper spelling for FDA is "Government".

        • Re:Wow (Score:5, Funny)

          by ravenshrike (808508) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:40AM (#38525622)

          Also, the phrase "corporate sponsored corruption" has 2 too many words.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          No, the proper spelling is FDA.

          There is no 'Government'. There are many groups with different goals and responsibilities that are part of the government.

          • by BlueStrat (756137)

            There is no 'Government'. There are many groups with different goals and responsibilities that are part of the government.

            Except for the common goals shared by most employed people as a result of simple human nature of making their jobs pay more, be more important, grow their little corner in size so as to employ more and more people, and increase their power so as to make their jobs easier as well as harder to eliminate and also to make the previously-mentioned goals easier to accomplish.

            Seeing that these goals are pretty universal to all employed people, many wouldn't think them a problem...except for the fact that they work

      • You might as well start calling them the "Ministry of Food and Drugs", because that's what they are. They have been working exclusively for Big Pharma and Big Ag for many years now, and try to hide that by claiming everything they do is for "consumer protection". That couldn't be further from the truth.

        There is a long list of abuses by the FDA the illustrate this point. Raids of farming co-opts, seizures of organic and raw milk farmers, banning of agricultural products that compete with pharmaceuticals (

      • No, the "Problem" is that they've spent 30 years paying attention to the results of scientific inquiry into the issue and have decided that the recommendations were overly cautious, and decided to base their decision on the science and not on fear mongering. I don't particularly beleive that is a problem, but if you buy into the fear or the conspiracy of it all then I could see why you would.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      FDA continues to admit it's useless and just likes to thrash its arms about in a non threatening manner.

      Yeah? The guy that owned this peanut processing facility [fda.gov] went to prison. Useless and non-threatening? Hardly.

  • Follow the Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blackpaw (240313) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:26AM (#38524844)

    Bet you it leads back to Industry.

  • by Deus.1.01 (946808) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:39AM (#38524922) Journal

    Trying to dissprove the concept of "tragedy of the commons"?

  • Greed (Score:3, Informative)

    by GoooF (135436) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:40AM (#38524926)

    Yet another consequence to greed. View the documentary 'Food Inc.', they show how the food industry have become afraid of the public opinion by creating laws against criticizing food producers and totally dedicated to generate more profit by lowering quality standards and so on..

    • I've tried watching Food, Inc. at the behest of my wife. I didn't get more than 10 minutes into it before I turned it off in disgust. It is full of half-truths, lies, unfounded claims, and willful misrepresentations. Just because it is a documentary, doesn't mean it is true. Documentary film makers are not simply regurgitating reality back t you. Before they ever shoot a single frame of video they decide what story they want to tell (which is how they get financial backers if not independetly wealthy).
  • by wesborgmandvm (893569) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `namgrobsew'> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:57AM (#38525090) Homepage
    As a veterinarian this is finality a topic on Slashdot I am qualified to talk about. However, rather than get into the details I am going to punt this one :)

    Here is a four-part series on the struggle over the use of antibiotics in the livestock industry, the threat of antibiotic-resistant pathogens and the veterinary profession’s role in safeguarding animal and public health.

    http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=18645 [vin.com]
  • Blatant trolling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobinEggs (1453925) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:11AM (#38525278)
    This summary might be the most misleading I've ever seen on slashdot.

    For one thing, the FDA has almost no authority in many of their jurisdictions; they can recommend things, but in most cases have no power to change policy or punish reckless companies. This is especially true with meat and produce. Do some googling about dirty slaughterhouses and meat packing plants and you'll find accounts of the FDA actually pleading with meat packers and state health districts to stop distributing meat from plants that had floors, walls, and packing equipment test positive for wide varieties of serious food-borne pathogens. The same goes for packing plants that had open holes in the walls and ceilings, or rodents literally scurrying underfoot on the packing line. The FDA had absolutely no authority to mandate closure of those plants, and still doesn't as far as I know.

    They shouldn't have withdrawn their recommendation against antibiotics in feed (saying the right thing is never wrong in science), but that recommendation never affected policy in the first place; it's total bullshit to imply, quite strongly, that the FDA just doesn't care anymore and thinks it's totally fine for meat producers to inspect themselves.

    They don't think it's fine; they fucking hate it. At least the scientists do, and the field inspectors do. The FDA does have a lot of senior management who, by many internal accounts, dedicate themselves solely to rubber-stamping industry proposals - and harassing any pissant scientist who objects. If this new policy is half as blase or half as scientifically ignorant as the linked article implies, and indeed came about to dodge a lawsuit, you can bet it came from some ass-covering prick at the top who doesn't represent the viewpoints of even 10% of the FDA staff.

    So ultimately, the FDA doesn't have the mandate, the funding, or the legal prerogative to do even one-tenth as much as the scientists and lower-management would like - and which organizations like the NRDC expect them to do. The politically appointed senior management pull bullshit like this, and people like the NRDC and the submitter use corruption at the highest levels to denigrate a lot of dedicated, well-meaning scientists by calling the whole organization a bunch of lazy sociopaths.

    If you want safe food and better drug testing then don't piss on the FDA: you should bitch at Congress about the fucking pro-corporate morons they appoint to lead the FDA, and about the shitty laws and budgets that leave the FDA with not even half the money and authority they need to do the job we expect of them.
    • by jbeaupre (752124)

      They shouldn't have withdrawn their recommendation against antibiotics in feed (saying the right thing is never wrong in science)

      There's a tiny chance they are smart enough to know that. Someone may be counting on the backlash. Can you think of a better way to get publicity without an actual food disaster?

  • FDA seeks to invest in foodborne illness prevention, medical product safety and countermeasures $4.3 billion request reflects a 33 percent increase from FY 2010 enacted budget

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is requesting a budget of $4.3 billion to protect and promote the public health as part of the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget — a 33 percent increase over the FDA enacted budget for FY 2010. The FY 2012 request covers the period of Oct. 1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2012.

    “FDA protects and promotes the health of all Americans through every stage of life,” said Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., commissioner of food and drugs. “The breadth of this mandate means that FDA responsibilities continue to grow. The new budget contains new resources so that FDA can fulfill its growing responsibilities to the American public.” http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm243354.htm [fda.gov]

    It is a supreme falsehood that a government's responsibilities and resources must grow. Bureaucracies like the FDA may be immune to democracy, but the politicians who seek to grow them are not.

    • It is a supreme falsehood that a government's responsibilities and resources must grow. Bureaucracies like the FDA may be immune to democracy, but the politicians who seek to grow them are not.

      So therefore any and all attempts at increasing government spending represent greedy politicians squeezing more cash out of the populace?

      Even the most hardcore libertarians I know believe the government has taxation authority for transportation infrastructure, weights & measures enforcement, and a military - including growing those things when needed. But not you, you saw through even those bullshit arguments! Guess the next time I-90 buckles or a new town with 2 million people thinks that *maybe* it

      • So therefore any and all attempts at increasing government spending represent greedy politicians squeezing more cash out of the populace? Even the most hardcore libertarians I know believe the government has taxation authority for transportation infrastructure, weights & measures enforcement, and a military - including growing those things when needed. But not you, you saw through even those bullshit arguments! Guess the next time I-90 buckles or a new town with 2 million people thinks that *maybe* it's time they got a freeway we'll have to point out that: "No! Lee Greatrex opened our eyes and we know that government spending shalt never grow!".

        Spoken like a true politician.

  • the FDA says that it will just continue to rely on 'voluntary self-policing' by the industry, the same method which hasn't worked out too well during the past 35 years

    What idiot thinks that "voluntary self-policing" works in any for-profit business? There are two fundamental problems with that plan: (1) businesses will only "volunteer" to do what benefits them, not the public, and (2) many businesses are surprisingly short-sighted and will only "volunteer" to do things that help their industry or their bu

    • What idiot thinks that "voluntary self-policing" works in any for-profit business?

      It tends to "work" when there is the threat of regulation. Basically "regulate yourselves or we'll do it for you". Of course, the threat has to be credible.

    • What idiot thinks that "voluntary self-policing" works in any for-profit business? There are two fundamental problems with that plan: (1) businesses will only "volunteer" to do what benefits them, not the public, and (2) many businesses are surprisingly short-sighted and will only "volunteer" to do things that help their industry or their business in the short-term.

      My guess is that no one actually believes it. It's just that the FDA are, as another Slashdotter so eloquently put it, "corporate bitches". It is a real threat to our health and safety, and to our democracy itself, that the foxes have been put in charge of the henhouses. It is so intrinsically corrupt that the people who run these agencies were employed by, and upon their retirement from public "service", will be employed by, the agencies they are supposed to be regulating. It is a national disgrace. The Un

  • On the other hand, public discomfort with antibiotics has, in the last few years, created a market (albeit small) for organic meat. While it isn't available everywhere, many people do have a choice to "opt out" regardless of the FDA's lack of action.
    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      A lot of good this is going to do considering that the whole point of the study was, antibiotics-resistant bacteria development is caused by prevalence of antibiotics-treated meat. Eating meat without antibiotics has absolutely no effect on the person until everyone else (or almost everyone else) does the same.

  • It works !! it works SO well that you can understand how well it works from the words from testimony of Alan Greenspan in front of senate inquiry committee regarding wall street :

    "I dont understand why corporations didnt regulate themselves"
  • and I get to be sick at the +1 mod to stupid ignorant statements.

  • There's obviously bribery going on to interfere with this public health program. Either directly in cash or other things of value, or just the promise of career escalation after leaving the FDA to work for the meat industry and its support services.

    If our news media weren't even more corrupt there'd be a news story about the bribery. Reporters have had 35 years to cover it.

  • by Mashiki (184564)

    People who worry about antibiotic resistances shouldn't worry just about meat that has this. They need to worry about Triclosan and the family of antibacterials that are used in plastics and handwash formulas as well. There's no shortage of studies out that show using it promotes bacterial resistance to all antibiotics.

    If you're that damn paranoid about germs, use 80-100% rubbing alcohol, or a iodine based antiseptic.

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