Report: FDA Documents Show Decade Of Unsuccessful Attempts To Control Farm Antibiotics

Maryn McKenna | Wired | January 28, 2014

A nonprofit group that has been using the courts to pressure the Food and Drug Administration into exerting more control over farm antibiotic overuse has done a deep review of FDA documents prised loose through Freedom of Information Act requests — and concludes that by allowing the drugs to remain on the market as formulated, the agency isn’t meeting its own internal safety standards.

Instead of only making that assertion, the Natural Resources Defense Council took the unusual step of showing its evidence in detail. NRDC published its analysis, Playing Chicken with Antibiotics, alongside a selection of the raw documents it received from the FDA. You’ll have to be a document-obsessive to take it on: The file (cached in a Dropbox and requiring download to view) is 306 mb and 971 pages. But even without considering its content, the file’s heft makes clear how much discussion there has been at the FDA over this issue, and suggests how much evidence has been accumulating over the problem of antibiotic resistance emerging from livestock production. Also telling: The FDA has been attempting to put some controls on livestock production since 1977; these documents cover only reviews of antibiotic feed additives that were conducted between 2001 and 2010.