Crops absorb livestock antibiotics, science shows

From Ron Epstein

Is this a serious problem anywhere in Mendocino County? In organic produce consumed here? How do we find out?

Consumers have long been exposed to antibiotics in meat and milk. Now, new research shows that they also may be ingesting them from vegetables, even ones grown on organic farms.

January 6, 2009
For half a century, meat producers have fed antibiotics to farm animals to increase their growth and stave off infections. Now scientists have discovered that those drugs are sprouting up in unexpected places. Vegetables such as corn, potatoes and lettuce absorb antibiotics when grown in soil fertilized with livestock manure, according to tests conducted at the University of Minnesota.

Today, close to 70 percent of the total antibiotics and related drugs produced in the United States are fed to cattle, pigs and poultry, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Although this practice sustains a growing demand for meat, it also generates public health fears associated with the expanding presence of antibiotics in the food chain.

Continue reading Crops absorb livestock antibiotics at Environmental Health Service


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