CLF Week in Links: Pumpkins, Farm Data, CNN and more

Saying "no" to caramel coloring.

Saying “no” to caramel coloring.

Good news for school lunches. I’ll start off this week’s update with some good news, coming from Marin County, California. Starting this month, the Sausalito Marin City School District will be serving 100 percent organic, GMO-free meals in two schools in Marin City and Sausalito. These schools serve about 500 students. All meals will be prepared on-site by The Conscious Kitchen, which rethinks school food based on five foundational terms: Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Non-GMO. This is the first school district in the nation to deliver food with this model. An important message to Big Ag is that transparency in labeling is essential for long-term monitoring of health and ecosystem effects of GMOs, and until we can have post-release surveillance and epidemiologic studies of possible health effects, the public will be attracted to approaches such as this one in Marin. Read More >

FDA Should Come Clean on the 2010 ADUFA Data

Last Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted data on antimicrobial drug sales collected under the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA). ADUFA requires drug companies to report information on sales of antimicrobial drugs intended for use in animals, including food animals. These data provide the most reliable information we have on the use of antimicrobials in animal agriculture.  CLF’s Ralph Loglisci and David Love, PhD, used 2009 ADUFA data to calculate the quantity of antimicrobial drugs used in food animal production in that year as a percentage of the total amount of antimicrobial drugs used in the U.S. over the same period—the number, they determined, was almost 80 percent!

The data that FDA posted on its website (October 28) was a PDF that contained sales data for 2010.  These data showed a significant increase in antimicrobial drug sales—almost 7 percent.  But a funny thing must have happened over the weekend.  Read More >

Not-So-Breaking News: Misuse of Antimicrobials Threatens Public Health

An article just out in Clinical Microbiology Reviews should put to rest the hotly contested debate about antimicrobial misuse in industrial food animal production (IFAP).  The review article, “Food Animals and Antimicrobials: Impacts on Human Health,” written by Bonnie Marshall and Stuart Levy of the Tufts University School of Medicine, provides one of the most comprehensive summaries to-date of the evidence linking antimicrobial misuse in IFAP to increased incidence of antimicrobial-resistant infections in humans, and it should silence accusations made by elected officials who contend that there is insufficient evidence to support restrictions on antimicrobial use in agriculture.

These accusations have grown louder in recent months.  In June of this year, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) attached an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have prohibited the Food and Drug Administration from spending money to restrict the use of antimicrobials in the absence of “hard science.”  The “hard science amendment,” poorly written and clumsily introduced, was stripped from the legislation before it passed the House.  But the arguments presented by Rehberg and other members nevertheless reveal a strident—and unwarranted—skepticism of existing scientific knowledge about antimicrobial resistance. Read More >

CLF opposes Rehberg amendment, antibiotic-resistant Salmonella infections in children

The FY 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill, voted out of the House Appropriations Committee last week, includes an amendment that would severely limit the authority of FDA to regulate the use of antimicrobials, including antibiotics, in food animal production-a key concern of public health researchers.  Sponsored by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), the amendment would prohibit the agency from spending any money appropriated by the bill on actions “intended to restrict the use of a substance or a compound” unless certain conditions are met.  Although the amendment is broad-affecting any “substance or compound,” notably including tobacco-Rep. Rehberg has told The Washington Post that his goal was to block FDA action on the use of antimicrobials by food animal producers.  Indeed, the amendment would, among other things, preempt upcoming FDA restrictions on the misuse use of cephalosporin-the antibiotic of choice for serious Salmonella infections in children.  (Researchers have reported increased incidence of cephalosporin-resistant Salmonella infections [Foley and Lynne, 2008].)   Joining many others in the public health community, researchers at the Center for a Livable Future recently sent a letter to Congress , urging members to strike the amendment from the legislation before final passage.

The Rehberg amendment reads as follows (we have broken it into numbered and lettered points to make the language easier to follow):

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Food and Drug Administration to write, prepare, develop or publish a proposed, interim, or final rule, regulation or guidance that is intended to restrict the use of a substance or a compound unless the Secretary

  1. bases such rule, regulation or guidance on hard science (and not on such factors as cost and consumer behavior), and
  2. determines that the weight of toxicological evidence, epidemiological evidence, and risk assessments clearly justifies such action,
  3. including a demonstration that a product containing such substance or compound

a.  is more harmful to users than a product that does not contain such substance or compound, or

b.  in the case of pharmaceuticals, has been demonstrated by scientific study to have none of the purported benefits. Read More >