Evolution and national security
One of the frustrations of being a scientist is knowing what good policy is, and then watching elected officials do the exact opposite. Last year, the FDA proposed a ban on the use of the antibiotic Baytril (enrofloxacin) in poultry farms. The reason for the ban is that resistance to enrofloxacin can also confer resistance to ciprofloxacin. If ciprofloxacin sounds familiar, it's the "Cipro" everyone was trying to get their hands on during the anthrax scare.
In 1990, resistance to ciprofloxacin was almost non-existant. By 1997, 13% of bacterial isolates associated with chicken and chicken production were resistant to ciprofloxacin. According to the FDA:
...the evidence "does not establish that the social and economic benefits [of this class of antibiotics] outweigh the risks to public health."
Davidson cited recent studies of bacteria in chicken showing increased levels of drug resistance. A 1999-2000 sampling of retail meat in the Washington area also mentioned in his ruling found that 35 percent of the suspect bacteria was resistant to Cipro-type drugs.So the FDA wanted to ban this drug so that Cipro would still be useful to prevent us from dying of anthrax. Now congressmen are trying to keep it on the market, thanks to fundraisers Bayer threw for them.
Thanks in particular to Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt. I don't think that his district includes the Kansas City mail processing facility which was closed due to anthrax, and whose workers had to take Cipro or risk death. It does include chicken farmers, who use Baytril and produce Cipro resistant bacteria.
If there's design here, it sure ain't intelligent.