Monday, April 8, 2013

The FDA is a Sham

From the Heartland, Margot McMillen writes: Sunday always seems like a catch-up day and I had a pile of newspapers to read, going back a couple of weeks. And I had two lambs abandoned by their mom to nurse. They had kept me up all night and needed to be fed every 3-4 hours, the male taking longer than the female, like maybe an hour. So the day went like this: Warm bottle for the lambs and feed. Glance through 4 or 5 sections of newspaper, fold for recycling, take a nap, wake up and warm bottle for the lambs, and so forth. So it went along well, until I stumbled on an Op-Ed in the New York Times March 28, 2013. David A. Kessler, commissioner of the FDA from 1990 to 1997, a time of huge expansion in the Confined Animal Feeding Operation era, wrote “Antibiotics and the Meat We Eat.” Too little too late, David. You shoulda checked it out when you were in power. As he said, “It was not until 2008 . . . that Congress required companies to tell the F.D.A. the quantity of antibiotics they sold for use in agriculture . . .” Why didn’t he ask? It’s not a secret that low doses of antibiotics are fed to increase fast weight gain in meat animals. That was one of the first tricks the big corporations used. They followed it by such strategies as feeding arsenic to poultry to compromise the liver and increase blood flow, thus increasing gain. The antibiotic usage in CAFOs accounts for about 80% of all antibiotic sales nowadays and that is causing antibiotic-resistant bugs that flow into the creeks, the rivers, the ocean. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a major problem in hospitals and one doctor has told me he gets a memo every week about what drugs no longer work on what bacteria. Kessler’s last line exempts FDA, the organization that we thought was the watchdog, from responsibility, and sums the problem up: “Lawmakers must let the public know how the drugs they need to stay well are being used to produce cheaper meat.” The industrial system knows that the government system is a sham. After all, industry designed it. But, now, consumers need to demand answers.

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