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Groups Sue FDA Over Livestock Drug Banned or Restricted in 160 Countries

Ractopamine, used to promote rapid growth in factory farm animals, harms the animals and is known to cause heart and respiratory issues in people who consume those animals.

Food safety, environmental and animal rights groups last week sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in federal court in a bid to force the agency to ban or reduce the allowable levels of a widely used livestock growth drug that the groups said causes harm to humans, animals and the environment.

Ractopamine — banned or restricted in about 160 countries — is used by U.S. industrial livestock producers to rapidly grow muscle in cows, pigs and turkeys.

According to the complaint, the drug has been shown to cause a host of adverse effects in animals. It also can cause heart and respiratory issues in meat consumers and farmworkers and pollutes ground and surface waters.

The groups — including the Center for Food Safety, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Food Animal Concerns Trust — allege the FDA violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to respond in a “reasonable” time to their 2012 and 2020 petitions asking that the agency ban or severely limit ractopamine use in livestock.

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