The Food and Drug Administration is expected to weigh in on the national debate over the healthfulness of growth and other antibiotics that are given to cattle, pigs and other animals raised specifically as food supply.

As reported in the New York Times, the FDA is expected within the next few months to issue tighter guidelines to farmers that raise such animals on concentrated farms. The FDA is looking to end the farm use of drugs simply to promote faster animal growth and wants to call for tighter oversight by veterinarians. While those in the medical field say the restrictions are needed, farmers argue that there is no true scientific link between antibiotics used in food animals and the ineffectiveness of antibiotics in people.

 From the New York Times:

Dispensing antibiotics to healthy animals is routine on the large, concentrated farms that now dominate American agriculture. But the practice is increasingly condemned by medical experts who say it contributes to a growing scourge of modern medicine: the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including dangerous E. coli strains that account for millions of bladder infections each year, as well as resistant types of salmonella and other microbes. ...

The agency’s final version is expected within months, and comes at a time when animal confinement methods, safety monitoring and other aspects of so-called factory farming are also under sharp attack. ...

“Is producing the cheapest food in the world our only goal?” asked Dr. Gail R. Hansen, a veterinarian and senior officer of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has campaigned for new limits on farm antibiotics. “Those who say there is no evidence of risk are discounting 40 years of science. To wait until there’s nothing we can do about it doesn’t seem like the wisest course.”

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