Opinion

''Antibiotic Idiocy''

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is getting serious about the threat routine use of antibiotics in livestock poses to human health. The seriousness includes asking farmers and the food industry to stop the practice voluntarily. Since it has been asking this for more than two decades, this hardly counts as a serious response to a real problem.

Last week, Joshua M. Sharfstein, the FDA's principal deputy commissioner, said antibiotics should be used only to protect the health of an animal. Antibiotics are routinely given to livestock, primarily cows and pigs, to help them grow.

“This is an urgent public health issue,” Mr. Sharfstein said in a conference call with reporters. “To preserve [their] effectiveness, we simply must use them as judiciously as possible.”

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