US Food and Drug Administration has announced that it is scrapping its program to implement and enforce regulations on use of subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics in animal feed. This use of antibiotics is designed to increase weight gain in animals destined for human food but is widely seen as contributing to evolution of antibiotic resistant strains of organisms which cause sickness in human. As a result of the antibiotic resistance it will far more difficult, and potentially impossible, for doctors to cure people who become sick from ingesting these drug-resistant organisms.
Farm groups and FDA officials seem not to have noticed that when government withdraws from regulatory plans the issue, whatever it is, usually becomes much more widely promoted by environmental and health critics, much more visible in the media, and much more hostile to the involved industry. GallonDaily confidently predicts that the issues surrounding use of antibiotics in meat production will become much more high profile in the United States, and by news spillover in Canada, in the months ahead.
An excellent discussion of the reasons behind the FDA announcement, which is seen as political rather than science-based, can be found in an International Business Times article at http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/275785/20120103/fda-antibiotics-livestock-withdraws-longstanding-petiton-regulate.htm
A good discussion of environmental groups position on subtherapeutic use of antibiotics in food animals can be found on the Natural Resources Defense Council website at http://www.nrdc.org/media/2011/110525.asp