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New FDA guidance on factory farm antibiotics too little too late; 'Requirements' completely voluntary

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: FDA, factory farms, antibiotics

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(NaturalNews) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally taken what appears, at least on the surface, to be some formidable action with regard to the widespread problem of antibiotic overuse in factory farm animals, having recently issued new guidelines restricting their use. But the agency's controversial approach to dealing with this potentially apocalyptic situation falls short of actually accomplishing much of anything, say experts, as the FDA's new "requirements" are completely voluntary and come years after the emergence of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs."

The new FDA rules, suggests a recent report by The Week, are more of a nod to doing something than actually doing something, as they allow factory farms 90 days to decide whether or not they plan to voluntarily comply with them -- in other words, the entire industry has the option to completely ignore the new guidelines without consequence. Additionally, those companies that do accept the new rules will still be allowed three long years before having to fully implement them, giving plenty of wiggle room for skirting compliance as long as possible.

Once again showing his true allegiances, Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and former attorney for Monsanto, told reporters that making the new antibiotics rules voluntary will speed up the process of ridding them from the food supply. By avoiding all those troublesome "product-by-product regulatory proceedings," as Taylor refers to them, the FDA will somehow have the upper hand in reforming the way that antibiotics are used in factory farm animals.

None of this makes any sense, of course, as the only way to really stop factory farms from abusing antibiotics is to actually restrict them from using them, with penalties. But the FDA only spends time and resources pursuing raw milk farmers, backyard growers and others with little to offer the agency in terms of kickbacks -- the big guys always get a free pass when it comes to real food safety issues, and these latest bogus antibiotic recommendations are a perfect example of this.

"It is a hollow gesture that does little to tackle a widely recognized threat to human health," said Avinash Kar, a health attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement to The Washington Post. "FDA has essentially followed a voluntary approach for more than 35 years, but use of these drugs to raise animals has increased," he added, noting that the new guidelines are "an early holiday gift to industry."

FDA: All almonds have to be pasteurized, but not using antibiotics in factory farm animals optional

If only the FDA were as lenient with the almond industry in California as it currently is with the factory farm industry. As you may recall, the FDA was complicit in the pasteurization mandate issued by the Almond Board of California back in 2007, which completely eliminated the market for truly raw domestic almonds. There definitely was nothing voluntary about this mandate, which actually allows almonds treated with the cancer-causing fumigant chemical propylene oxide to be labeled "raw."

"'Voluntary' regulations are merely suggestions," adds Tom McGarity, a University of Texas law professor and Center for Progressive Reform scholar, about the asininity of the new FDA guidelines, as quoted by Food Safety News.

"The reason that we have regulatory agencies is because the public cannot rely on promises by industry to do better. Antibiotics have been added to animal feed for too long, and it is time to put some teeth behind regulatory requirements that limit antibiotics in animal feed."

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