Is the FDA doing their job to protect our right to health?

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On April 11th 2012, the FDA finally took a step in the direction of protecting humans from the build-up of drug resistant bacteria.

Many don’t like to admit that bacteria are often smarter than even our best scientists. But the truth is that for every antibiotic we create, a stronger and more drug resistant strain of bacteria is generated.

NYTimes journalist Gardiner Harris writes, “Using small amounts of antibiotics over long periods of time leads to the growth of bacteria that are resistant to the drugs’ effects, endangering humans who become infected” (The New York Times). The New York Times also gives the estimate that 99,000 people die each year from infections they contracted at a hospital, and that the majority of these are due to resistant strains of bacteria.

Despite all of the research and data that has been collected, the US has done very little to cut back on the unnecessary use of antibiotics, specifically in the meat industry. Are we naively allowing industries interest to threaten the health of our entire population and especially of future generations?

The meat industry has been routinely including antibiotics in healthy livestock’s feed and water since the realization that it induced phenomenal growth.

One of the reasons antibiotics are not sold over the counter for human use is to reduce unnecessary use of such drugs that can create resistant strains of harmful bacteria. Until this April, however, there was hardly any regulation of antibiotic use for livestock.

The FDA announced on April 11th that in order for livestock to be given antibiotics, the antibiotics would need to be prescribed by a veterinarian. This was a victory in helping to preserve humans right to health. However, many more steps towards eliminating unnecessary antibiotic use are needed. Some are also concerned that both the meat and antibiotic industries will hold off making any changes in hope that the administration after the upcoming election will change the policy.

I am curious to see if people think this is a human rights issue where the government is failing to protect our right to health, or if people feel this is simply a policy issue.

Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/us/antibiotics-for-livestock-will-require-prescription-fda-says.html

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1 comment
  1. philipalcabes said:

    Abby’s provocative post — as well as Evelyn’s, also posted on 30 April — gets at one of the most troubling questions about the nature of human rights. If we are proponents of human rights in their most essential form, ought we to seek reform of the grand systems that structure our lives and put in peril our longevity or safety or access to a decent life? Or is it enough to encourage people to find ways to protect their own rights without advocating fundamental changes?

    To take Abby’s example, if we really want people to be optimally healthy, should we demand that systems of food production and distribution be reformed? Or is it enough to warn people about the dangers of eating mass-produced meat, suggest that they buy organic meat or not eat meat at all?

    In other words, what are the links between human rights and justice? How far are we supposed to go in promoting human rights?

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