The FDA has banned a poultry antibiotic and Dr. Frist sobers up
July 29. 2005
A senator votes his conscience. I’m not making this up—Having made a total ass of himself over the Terri Schiavo incident, Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist announced today he would not continue to mindlessly pander to the wingnuts of his part. Frist said he would vote for a bill to expand embryonic stem cell research even at the risk of breaking with his esteemed leader, the President. Frist, a transplant cardiac surgeon, had previously said he would back the President in opposition to the bill, also opposed by anti-abortionists. Frist may have ulterior motives for the announcement [and I know you are shocked, shocked, to hear that]. He is thinking of running for the White House himself in 2008, and while this move would alienate the reactionaries in the party, it would tend to round the edges a bit for moderates. The House has already passed a bill to overturn the limits President Bush put on stem cell research and the President has already said if the Senate follows through, he would veto the bill. Scott McClellan said that Frist has a right to vote his conscience and that the President’s position was unchanged. The position, of course, is opposed by an overwhelming majority of Americans but what the hell. Frist said the President’s limits were not appropriate given the promise of the research.
"I'm a physician. My profession is healing . . . ," Frist said. "In all forms of stem cell research, I see today, just as in 2001, great, great promise to heal. Whether it is diabetes or Parkinson's disease, or my own field of heart disease, Lou Gehrig's disease or spinal cord injuries, stem cells offer hope for treatment that other lines of research simply cannot offer."
Actually, as Thomas Lang points out in CJRDaily, Frist had the same position in 2001 but changed his mind to march in lockstep with the rest of the party.
Meanwhile, Sen. Arlen Spector (R-PA), who has just finished treatment for cancer, said there probably now is enough votes to override a Bush veto in the Senate. Getting that kind of majority in the House, still controlled by the reactionary right, is another matter.
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Well, at least we didn’t have to import the drug from Canada—Chicken Little needs to mount up and send the alarm. The Food and Drug Administration is banning the use of the antibiotic Baytril for chickens and turkeys because it could help create drug-resistant bacteria. It is a rare victory for science and common sense over commercial interests. The antibiotic, generically known as enrofloxacin, was used to treat seriously ill birds, particularly those infected with campylobacter bacteria. This is the first time a veterinary drug was withdrawn because of resistance concerns and was opposed, of course, by most poultry growers. In fairness, it should be pointed out, that some large growers, including Perdue and Tyson, voluntarily stopped using the antibiotic before the FDA action. The antibiotic also is used in cattle but they are not a major source of campylobacter.