Monday, March 05, 2007

Not to be alarmist, but...

I just read a very interesting article on the Washington Post about the FDA's plan to allow a new antibiotic to be used in cattle:

The government is on track to approve a new antibiotic to treat a pneumonia-like disease in cattle, despite warnings from health groups and a majority of the agency's own expert advisers that the decision will be dangerous for people.

The drug, called cefquinome, belongs to a class of highly potent antibiotics that are among medicine's last defenses against several serious human infections. No drug from that class has been approved in the United States for use in animals.

Well, health groups and your own experts say it's a bad idea think it's a bad idea to allow this - as it's among "medicine's last defense" for dangerous infections. Great.

Yet by all indications, the FDA will approve cefquinome this spring. That outcome is all but required, officials said, by a recently implemented "guidance document" that codifies how to weigh the threats to human health posed by proposed new animal drugs.

The wording of "Guidance for Industry #152" was crafted within the FDA after a long struggle. In the end, the agency adopted language that, for drugs like cefquinome, is more deferential to pharmaceutical companies than is recommended by the World Health Organization.

I doubt it - it's not like Big Pharma would try to influence the agency that regulates them...or would they???

Industry representatives say they trust Guidance #152's calculation that cefquinome should be approved. "There is reasonable certainty of no harm to public health," Carl Johnson, InterVet's director of product development, told the FDA last fall.

"Oh, yes, we're reasonably certain this drug that is about to make us millions of dollars is safe - but to please the naysayers, we've even factored in 'Upcoming Litigation' into our budget!"

Anyway, go read the article, then read the slashdot comments (I even set the threshold for you, since I know how you like to read smart things), then write an angry letter and consider supporting farmers who adhere to some reasonable standards:
Or, we could try a free-market approach: We charge ranchers market-rates for grazing lands and water, we stop propping up corn-states with subsidies so that dirt-cheap corn isn't available for feedlot use as clearance prices, and we treat feedlots as the industrial polluters they are, and regulate them accordingly. While we're at it, label beef openly. You should be able to pick up a package of beef, look at the label, and see "feedlot-raised herford routinely injected with the following antibiotics@concentration@interval just in case". Next to it would be, "grass-fed, open-range, dusted for ticks and certified treated only for illness and not within 120 days of slaughter". End result: a whole whack of inefficient cattlemen go under (at least we won't have to list to the whining of rugged individualists who only need continual tax subsidies but no other gub'mint involvement to stay in business), meat prices rise a bit, successful ranchers will go back to open-range grazing like Argentina does, and possibly some of that fertilizer-gulping corn will be plowed under and prarie grass for grazing planted in its place.

With better animal-husbandry (don't feed a grazing animal expecting a high-fiber diet acidic corn and make it stand in one place all day), you'll get healthier animals, and less need for antibiotics and other promoters to make them grow. And before anyone starts the accusations, I eat meat and look askance at soybean-based alleged food products. These are the same people pushing irradiation of food so that they don't have to slow down slaughterhouses and worry about what bits of cattle-waste end up on or in meat. Sometimes the answer really is, "it's not a machine, and we should not be producing beef as if it was Nikes, so worry about public health first, then about m


yanqui mike said...

Couldn't agree with you more, my friend.


yanqui mike said...

Carol said...

nice post tones- any link to fake meat night for next Tuesday?