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Safe to Give Antibiotics to Cows?Or is It?

In the US, we give cattle antibiotics because, instead of letting them graze exclusively on grass, we fatten them up on corn in feedlots, which they are not able to handle well. This makes it possible for ranchers to raise more cattle per acre. Feedlot corn also produces the marbling that makes steaks so appealing. But what are the these antibiotics doing to US?

Researchers have worried for years about the "food chain" effect of adding antibiotics to the foods we eat. It's known that viruses the infect people in the West, especially, are becoming immune to common antibiotics, creating superbugs]. But it turns out that eliminating antibiotic drugs from food animal production may have little positive effect on antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In fact, when these antibiotics have been eliminated from food abroad, this has resulted in MORE superbugs.

How can this be? In Europe, the elimination of antibiotics that promote animal growth resulted in increased disease among animals?thus the animals were fed even more antibiotics than they would have been, had they been given them routinely. Also, the elimination of certain antibiotics by the European Union has not been shown to have reduced the prevalence of some antibiotic-resistant strains among humans.

This report was compiled by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), which consists of scientists who work in "food science, technology and related professions in industry, academia and government," meaning that any study they do may be skewed by their desire to promote new food technologies, such as genetically-engineered foods and antibiotic use in beef and poultry, as positive advances, and well as defend current government-approved farming practices.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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