04/15/2012 - Two important events in recent weeks — a regulatory guideline and a federal court decision — have raised hopes that progress can be made in curbing the widespread use of antibiotics to spur growth in cattle, chickens, pigs and other food animals.
The decades-long practice of feeding small doses of antibiotics continuously to entire herds or flocks has a high cost for human health. It has fostered the emergence of germs that are resistant to veterinary drugs and to the very similar drugs used to treat humans.
Last Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration issued new regulatory guidelines, as part of an effort to get drug companies, animal producers and veterinarians to rein in indiscriminate use of antibiotics that are important for treating humans.
Some advocacy groups wanted the F.D.A. to work for outright bans on use of medically important drugs to promote growth. But the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming endorsed what it said was a “sweeping” approach to the problem. Federal officials argue it will work because, they say, drug manufacturers have largely bought into the idea.
Read the full editorial, Antibiotics Off the Farm, on the New York Times' website.