FDA approves controversial drug to beef up farm animals despite being reported as the most dangerous livestock drug on market and being banned in 150 countries
Submitted by Veronica Coffin
Written by Jennifer Lea Reynolds
If it’s been deemed bad in other countries, that’s often when the United States comes in and welcomes it with open arms. In this case, we’re talking about the fact that a California judge recently dismissed two lawsuits that claimed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) illegally approved a harmful drug additive – ractopamine hydrochloride – used in animal feed.(1)
Indeed, despite having information about the weight gain inducing drug’s detrimental effects on animals, and that the active ingredient, found in the brand Paylean, is banned in 150 countries, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers turned a blind eye.(1)
FDA records revealed that pigs in particular have suffered horrific consequences from being given the drug, which is designed to make them gain weight without having to consume a great deal of feed. While cost effective for the farming industry, it’s been found to have rendered 160,000 pigs unable to walk, to experience hyperactivity and broken limbs, and even to die.(1)
In fact, a Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) investigation determined that ractopamine is fed to “an estimated 60 to 80 percent of pigs in the United States” and has “resulted in more reports of sickened or dead pigs than any other livestock drug on the market.” Over the years, farmers and veterinarians have repeatedly expressed concern over ailing pigs.(1)
Still, the judge feels it’s appropriate to dismiss the lawsuits while these horrors continue to unfold.
Judge’s unbelievable reason for dismissing lawsuits
A portion of the judge’s explanation for the motion to dismiss reads as follows:
Due to statutory and regulatory requirements that applications to FDA for new drugs remain confidential… plaintiffs only became aware of the approvals, and FDA’s associated decision-making, when they were final and published in the Federal Register… Thus, plaintiffs were not able to participate in the administrative process prior to the FDA approvals at issue… Central to defendant-intervenor’s motion to dismiss, plaintiffs do not allege that they pursued any administrative remedies with the FDA relating to their NEPA grievances following the FDA approvals.(2)
So there you have it. The FDA is protected by secrecy, able to approve harmful drugs under a cloak of application confidentiality, knowing full well that participation in approval processes is limited. Not everyone is in on it, of course, especially those who the FDA knows would be likely take issue and dare to ask questions.
Organizations who take issue with this additive include the Center for Food Safety, the Sierra Club, the United Farmworkers of America and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, all of whom – along with others – originally filed the suit in 2014. They maintained that it violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Administrative Procedure Act when the animal feed additive containing ractopamine hydrochloride was approved. They are also adamant that the FDA did not properly test the feed additive, which is manufactured by Elanco, a division of Eli Lilly.(1)
What this means for you
What does this mean for your food and for those who advocate the humane treatment of animals? It means that animals will continue to be given drugs that severely compromise their health. They are dying, trembling and living in a constant state of fear.
It also means that the food you eat involves an additive – ractopamine hydrochloride – which has actually been deemed “not for human use,” yet has turned up in tested meat samples. This doesn’t just pertain to pigs, either; it’s been found that ractopamine is fed to turkeys and cattle as well.(3)
If this has you shaking your head in disbelief and disgust, it should. Once again, greed enters the picture – one that’s well-framed by loopholes and hush-hush regulatory processes.
Sources for this article include: