Action Alert

Fair trade or free trade? Let your voice be heard on Minnesota’s future!

The Obama Administration is negotiating two new mega trade deals (one with Pacific Rim countries, another with Europe) entirely in secret, with the goal of further expanding the NAFTA-model of free trade. These trade agreements could have major impacts on Minnesota's farmers, workers, small business owners and rural communities. They could limit Minnesota’s ability to support local food and energy systems and grow local businesses. In order to stay up to speed, Minnesota has set up a new Trade Policy Advisory Council (TPAC) to advise the state legislature and Governor.

TPAC wants to hear from Minnesotans: What concerns do you have about free trade? What role could TPAC play in the future? Now is your opportunity to have a say in our future trade policy. Complete the survey and let them know future trade negotiations should be public, not secret. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard in the development of trade agreements and that they protect local control and our quality of life. The free trade model has failed for Minnesota and we need a new approach to trade. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard before trade agreements are completed, and that they protect local control, our natural resources and our quality of life.

Please take five minutes and complete the survey. To find out more about these trade agreements, go to

FDA refuses (again) to regulate antibiotics used in making ethanol

Posted October 4, 2012 by       


What does it take to get the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fulfill their duty to protect public health? More than a letter from two members of Congress, apparently.

FDA finally responded to a letter sent by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Congress’ only microbiologist, and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) last May. Following on the heels of the release of IATP’s Bugs in the System report, the letter asked what FDA was doing to control the unapproved, and possibly illegal, marketing of antibiotics by animal drug companies for use in ethanol production.

As IATP documented in our report, antibiotics are widely used in ethanol production to control bacterial contamination, although non-antibiotic alternatives are also effective and readily available on the market. Our investigation showed that the agency considers antibiotics used in ethanol production to be “food additives.” Under federal code, food additives must be FDA approved before they can be lawfully marketed. None of the antibiotics used in ethanol production—including the human drugs penicillin and erythromycin, and human-drug analogues tylosin and virginiamycin—have been so approved, yet the FDA has refused to regulate their marketing and use.

The FDA response to Slaughter and Markey’s letter in fact support’s our report’s conclusions. In the letter, the FDA states it has not recognized any ethanol antibiotics as safe, nor has it completed a review of the food additive petitions that have been submitted by the manufacturers.

Despite those admissions, and a clearly stated acknowledgement in the letter that the agency has not carried out sufficient safety reviews to properly assess the multiple risks posed by antibiotic use in ethanol, the FDA continues to allow the unapproved marketing of antibiotics to the ethanol industry.

Big Pharma counters our analysis by claiming that the FDA has not yet issued an official guidance regarding the use and regulation of antibiotics in ethanol production. In a phone call, FDA officials told IATP that they are indeed creating a guidance, but it won’t be released until at least the early part of 2013.

The lack of proper guidance, however, should not be grounds for FDA failing to adhere to the law. Bugs in the System lays out a clear case showing why federal code requires the FDA to regulate antibiotic use in ethanol production. Yesterday’s letter from the FDA to Reps. Slaughter and Markey indicates that there exists more than enough uncertainty around the human and animal health risks of antibiotic use in ethanol production—including around antibiotic resistance—to put an immediate halt to antibiotic sales to the ethanol industry until those risks are assessed and a proper approval process carried out.

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