Lance Price, a microbiologist at George Washington University has done his research on antibiotics at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix. Dr. Price has been sounding the alarm about antibiotic resistance for a number of years. He recently told a Congressional committee that evidence of the ill effects of antibiotics in farming was overwhelming.
He thinks the FDA's efforts to limit antibiotic use on farms have been weak. In 1977 (36 years ago!) the FDA said it would begin to ban some agricultural uses of antibiotics. But the House and Senate appropriations committees - dominated by agricultural interests - passed resolutions against the ban, and the FDA retreated. Surprise, surprise.
Antibiotics are given to animals for various reasons, including: 1) treatment of sick animals; 2) prevention of illness in healthy animals; and 3) control of disease in a group of animals when some in the group show overt signs of disease.
Antibiotics are also used to improve feed efficiency and weight gain in healthy animals, a practice the FDA has been working to change. In 2012, FDA released a guidance document for the animal health and animal agriculture industries that focuses on two primary principles: 1) limiting medically important antimicrobial drugs to uses in food-producing animals that are considered necessary for assuring animal health; and 2) limiting such drugs to uses in food-producing animals that include veterinary oversight or consultation. We think that this voluntary approach will move us forward in the quickest way possible, and it doesn't rule out future regulation.
Another example of how our government cares more about protecting the providers of food than the consumers of food. Apparently, the FDA, after decades of studies showing that eating meat from animals fed antibiotics is a factor in antibiotic resistance, still feels that "voluntary" compliance is the way to go.