Institute Says FDA's Proposed Antibiotic Guidance is Flawed

Cornucopia Institute says FDA's animal antibiotic changes would disadvantage small farmers

Published on: Feb 6, 2014

"So-called "sub therapeutic" administration of antibiotics, low doses of the drugs in feed and water to prevent disease, is just as likely to apply selective pressure for antibiotic resistance as sub therapeutic administration designed for production purposes — the same exact problem the FDA is purportedly trying to address with the new restrictions," Cornucopia writes.

Veterinary oversight
Another issue with the new policy, Cornucopia suggests, is that increased veterinary oversight could hurt organic and small farmers who rely on the drugs to treat sick animals.

They point out that while certified as organic, these farms are required to treat animals if they are sick, and immediately remove them from a certified organic herd.

Since the new policy brings therapeutic uses of important antibiotics under the direct oversight of licensed veterinarians, Cornucopia says, small farms may have trouble finding a licensed food animal veterinarian.

"While that move seems reasonable in many ways, similar to requiring a doctor’s prescription to obtain antibiotics for humans, it may disproportionately disadvantage small farmers who don’t have a regular relationship with a veterinarian," Cornucopia suggests.

Andrew Gunther, director of Animal Welfare Approved, a production method certifier, also finds the lack of veterinarians in many parts of the country a serious issue for family farmers, Cornucopia says.

Gunther suggests that the guidance should offer more flexibility, such as allowing "qualified experts like extension agents that could be able to provide animal health advice in addition to veterinarians."

"Since The Cornucopia Institute cares about the livelihoods of independent family farms, local, organic and sustainably managed, there is a legitimate concern that farmers should continue to have access to life-saving medicines for their animals when they need them," Thistlethwaite concludes.

Read a veterinarian's take on the new policy, and how it will affect producers: Veterinarian Addresses Proposed Antibiotic Changes