The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which is involved in legal action against the FDA to stop the non-therapeutic use of penicillin and tetracyclines in livestock unless drug manufacturers prove the safety of such use, has it right:
It doesn’t do much: It’s voluntary ... the guidance is voluntary. It asks drug manufacturers to voluntarily stop selling antibiotics to speed up animal growth. The livestock industry accounts for 80% of their antibiotic sales. Do we really think the pharmaceutical industry is going to voluntarily walk away from such a big chunk of its customer base? I don’t see that happening.The FDA is not pulling the wool over my eyes again. In 2010, I wrote: Obama's FDA quietly banning antibiotics in livestock production. They were so quiet it never even happened. It's not going to happen with voluntary guidelines. In fact, the situation has gotten worse with antibiotics used in livestock production now accounting for more than 80 percent of all antibiotic sales in the U.S. and those antibiotics making us even sicker than we thought.
It pretends to do more: It would allow much of the problematic use to continue under a different name. The problem of voluntary action is compounded by the fact that this doesn’t actually stop the problematic uses. Even if the drug manufacturers stopped selling antibiotics to speed up growth, they could continue to sell them for a very similar use: to prevent diseases associated with crowded and stressful conditions on many livestock facilities. Not only is the use very similar in nature—low doses added to the feed of a large number of animals day after day—many of the antibiotics are approved for both kinds of uses.