Tuesday, July 6, 2010

F.D.A. Trying to Curb Overuse of Antibiotics in Agriculture

"The use of antibiotics has been common in the meat industry for a long time, not only to treat sick farm animals or to protect them from diseases, but also to foster their growth. It seems that small doses of antibiotics administered daily makes the animals gain weight faster. According to a recent report in the New York Times (6/29/2010), 70 percent of the antibiotics used in agriculture are simply for the promotion of animal growth, not to fight illnesses.

While it is not altogether clear why exactly antibiotics, like tetracycline, have this growth-enhancing effect, there is speculation that the drugs kill the natural flora in the animals' intestines and, therefore, allow for more efficient absorption of their feed. For an industry that measures profits in miniscule amounts, any weight gain is a welcome bonus."

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