The FDA Is Paralyzed About Antibiotics And Conservatism Will Resurge

There were a bunch of big headlines yesterday alleging that the FDA was “doing something” about the impending antibiotics crisis. As Beth Hoffman observes at Forbes, the new “guidelines” probably won’t change much about how farms use antibiotics.

But sadly, the new FDA “rules” announced Wednesday regarding antibiotic use on farm are a bit of a bait and switch. While the recommendations may “restrict antibiotic use” there is not much hope they will actually limit the quantity of antibiotics used on farms.


It is true that, according to the recommendations, antibiotics sold to promote growth in animals will be – for participating companies – verboten. And yet many of those same drugs, given in the same feed at the same time are also used to “prevent disease.” Of the 18 antibiotics listed as “critical” or “highly important” for human use which are also FDA approved for growth promotion in animals, more than half are also approved for disease prevention.

[…]And for those companies producing “animal health products,” agreeing to the recommendations will only mean phasing out “non-medical” uses of antibiotics (ie – growth promotion) and will not necessarily mean less sales of antibiotics to farms.

“We believe the impact of the FDA Guidances and VFD on our revenues will not be significant,” said Elinore White, the Senior Director of Corporate Communications for Zoetis,one of the world’s largest animal health providers.

Why the sudden noise about using antibiotics? Because injecting animals destined for human consumption with antibiotics is “a practice that experts say has endangered human health by fueling the growing epidemic of antibiotic resistance.”

The FDA feels compelled to “do something” as we are about to enter “a world without antibiotics.” But, since they are effectively controlled by the big industrial farms they are supposed to regulate, they won’t do anything serious.

What will happen?

For one thing, people who survive into their adult lives and are still fertile will probably be a lot more likely to settle down early with a single mate and not sleep around. While the pill and legalized abortion is often given credit for the sexual revolution, it was at least as dependent on antibiotics.

As one economist has noted on her blog, no antibiotics means no sexual revolution. The chances of dying or being incurably and permanently harmed by a sexual encounter will soon be a real possibility. Likewise, the chances of having long-lasting fertility problems will go way up.

So, at this point, it looks like we’re about to shift back into the past not only regarding how we bring food to market, but also in our sexual morality.