Public health advocates are fuming over a new court ruling that they say could hasten the coming of the next pandemic.
In a 2-1 decision released Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration need not consider banning the use of antibiotics in healthy food-producing animals.
“We believe that this decision allows dangerous practices known to threaten human health to continue,” said Avinash Kar, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Adding antibiotics to farm animals’ feed, day after day, is not what we should be doing. It’s not what the doctor ordered and it should not be allowed.”
In March 2012, a federal court ruled that the FDA must act on scientific knowledge that the overuse of antibiotics in animals raised for food has contributed to the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans. That decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by the NRDC concerning findings made by the FDA back in 1977. Feeding livestock low doses of penicillin and most tetracyclines, the agency had concluded, might pose a risk to human health. The FDA never acted on or retracted those findings.