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Organic Consumers Association

Only Obama Can Revive the Tattered FDA

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety Research Center page, Health Issues page and our CAFO's vs.Free Range page.

President Obama is enjoying a pleasant end to 2012-a successful election and a winning hand in his fiscal cliff fight with the Republicans. But his Food and Drug Administration is having a rough slog.

In On Earth Magazine-and reprinted in Mother Jones-Barry Estabrook has a searing article establishing the FDA as woefully underfunded and reluctant to stand up to Big Food to protect the public from food poisoning.

And remember the voluntary new rules FDA proposed in April to curtail antibiotic use on factory farms-you know, the practice that drives the rising tide of antibiotic-resistant illnesses? The FDA insisted that voluntary rules would end massive overuse of antibiotics. "The new strategy will ensure farmers and veterinarians can care for animals while ensuring the medicines people need remain safe and effective," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg declared in a press release. But in October, the agency had to cough up a trove of internal documents on the matter after a successful lawsuit by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The documents showed that top agency officials found serious "limitations" in the voluntary approach and expressed concern it might be "unlawful" for certain antibiotics.

They also suggested that the agency's light hand in regulating antibiotics on farms, which it has been applying for decades, isn't having much of an effect on drug companies or feedlot operators. "In the foot-thick stack of materials FDA surrendered there is not a shred of evidence that industry is working to phase-out injudicious use of these drugs,"  PEER Counsel Kathryn Douglass said in a press release.


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