We learned back in the mid-1970s that livestock antibiotics increase the presence of drug-resistant bacteria in farmworkers. Since then, meat and poultry production has nearly tripled while business, government and public advocates have battled over industry regulation. ProPublica charts that battle’s history. —ARK
Three decades ago, the FDA determined that feeding antibiotics to healthy farm animals could be dangerous to human health and announced its intention to ban some drugs. But for years, calls for more research and pressure from an industry concerned with rising costs slowed any action. In response to a surge of scientific evidence linking the overuse of antibiotics in livestock to the spread of deadly drug-resistance in humans, a U.S. district court judge recently ordered the agency to take steps to restrict antibiotic-laced feed. Here we trace the history of the FDA’s inaction on animal antibiotics.