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Antibiotics in the environment

MagazineMay 1997 (Vol. 8 Issue 2)Antibiotics in the environment

Genetically modified organisms, animals who either eat GM food or who are given growth hormones or antibiotics to treat the diseases inherent in high density food production, and human consumption of animals and/or foods made from products containing these organisms are contributing to our unknowing consumption of antibiotics

Genetically modified organisms, animals who either eat GM food or who are given growth hormones or antibiotics to treat the diseases inherent in high density food production, and human consumption of animals and/or foods made from products containing these organisms are contributing to our unknowing consumption of antibiotics. Transfer resistance, from animals to humans, is an ongoing problem (Lancet, 1994; 344: 323) and one which has been proven again and again to be a reality (Nature;1976; 260: 40-2; Lancet, 1993; 342: 1371-2; Scand J Infect Dis, 1988; 20: 573). It is also thought that what we call food allergies may, in some cases, be an allergy to the antibiotic residue in common foods (Vet Microbiol, 1993; 35: 213-26).

The medical press has been rife with arguments for banning antibiotics as growth promoting agents in animals (Lancet, 1996; 348: 619). Salmonella drug resistance can be passed on through poultry products (N Eng J Med, 1984; 311: 617-22). Avoparcin and vancomycin are both used throughout Europe to improve the digestibility of feeds for cows, pigs and poultry. In Germany, strains of vancomycin resistant enterococci have been found in minced meat from separate butchers as well as in human fecal samples (Lancet, 1996; 347: 1047).In the US milk is full of a growth hormone known as BST. American dairy products are shipped quite legally to Europe. While US farmers argue that BST is destroyed in the pasteurizing process, antibiotics and resistant strains of bacteria have been found in both hamburger and dairy products (N Eng J Med, 1987; 316: 565-70).


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