Thursday, September 16, 2010

Elections Have Consequences

U.S. Farmers are preparing for new limits on use of antibiotics.
Dispensing antibiotics to healthy animals is routine on the large, concentrated farms that now dominate American agriculture. But the practice is increasingly condemned by medical experts who say it contributes to a growing scourge of modern medicine: the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including dangerous E. coli strains that account for millions of bladder infections each year, as well as resistant types of salmonella and other microbes.

Now, after decades of debate, the Food and Drug Administration appears poised to issue its strongest guidelines on animal antibiotics yet, intended to reduce what it calls a clear risk to human health. They would end farm uses of the drugs simply to promote faster animal growth and call for tighter oversight by veterinarians.

Which party is in charge of the White House and Congress right now? Oh, that's right, I recall now.

Of course, the major farmers, including the National Pork Producers Council, are pushing back against the new rules and proposed legislation that would implement even stricter limits. They claim there is not sufficient evidence that the antibiotics injected into the animals cause or contribute to human health problems. The American Medical Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America are pushing for the tougher legislation.

I don't have the competing studies in hand to compare them. If I did, I'm certainly not qualified to do the comparison. I am reminded though that tobacco industry for years claimed smoking didn't harm people, that the evidence it caused cancer was insufficient and flawed. They had an economic interest in selling cigarettes. The National Pork Producers have a similar economic interest in producing the most pork possible and the lowest costs possible.

I feel confident saying if the GOP was in charge of the White House and the FDA these rules would not be moving forward. If the GOP gains control of the House and/or the Senate in November then we can look forward to government shut downs and as many investigations as they can muster against Obama and his administration. This kind of work good will come to an end. Just what the GOP wants.


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