This Is Your Steak on Drugs

I wanted to write yesterday about reports that the FDA was poised to ban low-level prophylactic antibiotics in livestock, but the initial news accounts didn't make it very clear what the court was proposing. This link (h/t Rocket Science, as so often) does a good job of citing directly to the decision and providing some background and context:
[T]he Commissioner of the FDA or the Director of the [Center for Veterinary Medicine] must re-issue a notice of the proposed withdrawals (which may be updated) and provide an opportunity for a hearing to the relevant drug sponsors; if drug sponsors timely request hearings and raise a genuine and substantial issue of fact, the FDA must hold a public evidentiary hearing. If, at the hearing, the drug sponsors fail to show that use of the drugs is safe, the Commissioner must issue a withdrawal order.

The Court notes the limits of this decision. Although the Court is ordering the FDA to complete mandatory withdrawal proceedings for the relevant penicillin and tetracycline NADAs/ANADAs, the Court is not ordering a particular outcome as to the final issuance of a withdrawal order. If the drug sponsors demonstrate that the subtherapeutic use of penicillin and/or tetracyclines is safe, then the Commissioner cannot withdraw approval.

The comments to this report raise the predictable issue of whether small-government types should be up in arms or not. It's a good question. CAFOs (concentrated animal feedlot operations) are pretty horrifying from a number of points of view, not least the impact on public health. Is this one of the areas where even libertarians should welcome regulatory interference?

Nevertheless, somehow I don't see the FDA issuing a prohibition of livestock antobiotics any time soon. Much as I'd prefer to see meat raised to Joel Salatin's or Michael Pollan's standards, the bulk of our meat comes from CAFOs. No one's going to get away with shutting that industry down overnight. You think high gas prices are going to be a headache in the November elections, wait till all meat goes for pasture-raised organic prices. And what would we do with all that subsidized corn? The animals can't be fed on a pure diet of corn for months without prophylactic antiobiotics to keep it from killing them before they're fattened up.


Eric Blair said...

Eat more buffalo. And stop subsidizing the corn.

bthun said...

Eric, on this one you'll get no argument from me. =8^}

Some of my more urbane acquaintances have often wondered, both aloud and with a bit more than an implicit tease in their question, why W.B. and I grow and preserve a large percentage of our vegetables, can another large percentage from known growers who sell at the Farmers Market, hunt deer for meat, and buy sides of beef from locals.

I simply reply, to each his own.

*checks watch, yup, beer-thirty*
I think I'll grill some venison sausage-dogs for supper.

Grim said...

I thought about growing buffalo here, but you have to spend a fortune on fencing.

bthun said...

"I thought about growing buffalo here, but you have to spend a fortune on fencing"

No doubt. Not to mention the on-going maintenance on the fencing, and then trying to herd the escapees back to their range. Eventually some will escape no matter how diligent your processes --think hairy 1958 Buick Roadmasters with an obstinate attitude--

Nah, if one were really interested in raising bison, one should probably consider the Ted Turner approach* or alternately, buy land abutting large expanses of unfenced Federal land out west.

*No, I don't mean sleeping with Hanoi Jane.

DL Sly said...

"...think hairy 1958 Buick Roadmasters with an obstinate attitude..."

Actually, my friends, they are considerably bigger than that. A few years ago, when I had the opportunity to visit my sister in NW Montana, we took a day trip to the National Bison Range. We took my Durango as it had the largest carrying capability for people, food and libation. Along about noon, we naturally got a little hungry so we found an idyllic spot with a gorgeous view, pulled over to the side of the road and proceeded to partake of our picnic feast. Apparently, the spot we had chosen was that day's *lunchtime conference site* for the bison herd as well because we had no sooner started eating than they came to our little spot and began grazing, followed shortly after by the required post-lunchtime nap. As they began laying about here and there around my Durango, we all commented about how many of them were as big and a few were bigger than the tank that is my Durango! After these ruminations, we also had the opportunity to verify an old saying.
FWIW, you can drive either...

bthun said...

Heheheh... Thanks for that pick-me-up Sly!

The daily, five a.m. kick in the posterior found me in a funk today. Yup, thinking less than charitable thoughts about far too many of my fellow human beans you know, this sorta frame of mind...

A dash of Roger's perspective on things seems to have improved the mood by several factors.

DL Sly said...

Glad to hear that I improved *somebody's* mood today. After reading more headlines than a sane (bite your tongue, Cass.) person really should on a Monday morn, I have been left with more than a bitter taste in my mouth.
So, to keep up the good mood, I offer my Pop's personal fav from Mr. Miller.