Conservative Paranoia: No, the FDA Will not Classify Asparagus as a Drug

Abe Gaustad
2 min readMay 23, 2021

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A conservative Twitter account misreads a government document, proceeds to declare that tyranny has arrived while hundreds of fellow conservatives accept the conclusion without question.

John Cardillo, not being smart.

This all-too-common pattern happened again Saturday night when Newsmax host John Cardillo amplified a Twitter thread from another account that accused the FDA of classifying all kinds of agricultural products as drugs. The problem? The user had completely misread the document in question, which merely listed substances that had been nominated for use as “bulk drugs” — the inactive ingredients in pharmaceuticals. The document appears to refer specifically to regulations for compounding pharmacies. (A compounding pharmacy is authorized by the FDA to make new formulas of approved drugs in order to provide a safe product to patients who might be allergic to an inactive ingredient used by the drug’s primary manufacturer.)

The vast majority of responses to Cardillo’s tweet were angry over the prospect of asparagus or “bean” being listed as an illegal drug. Others claimed, along with Cardillo, that the move to criminalize alfalfa was part of a devious plan by the Biden administration to control the nation’s food supply. Cassandra Fairbanks, a white nationalist correspondent from The Gateway Pundit, credulously retweeted Cardillo, bemoaning the Communist takeover of her garden.

Some of the outraged commenters encouraged others to submit comments on the supposed designation directly to the FDA, ensuring that Monday morning will see a higher than normal number of confused FDA employees.