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Evidence supports ban on growth promotion use of antibiotics in farming
Date:11/15/2011

side effects.

Bans on the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics are effective in diminishing antibiotic resistance

  • Bans in several European countries have led to decreases in antibiotic resistance. Bans in Denmark and Germany have not only decreased the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in farm animals, they have decreased the presence of these bacteria in humans.
  • Alternative farming practices such as reducing animal crowding, improving hygiene, and improving use of vaccines have been shown to compensate for some of the growth benefits conferred by non-therapeutic antibiotics.

Levy and Marshall also highlight areas of study that may improve our understanding of the link between antibiotic use in animals and the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Modern genetic techniques are helping, they report, but there are still gaps in our understanding at each stage of the transmission chain.

"Aquaculture, or fish farming, has been relatively understudied, yet water is a prime medium for the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria," says first author Bonnie Marshall, MA, MT (medical technology), senior research associate in the Levy laboratory at Tufts University School of Medicine.

"While the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics remains contentious, the evidence is strong enough to merit precaution. Antibiotics save lives. When infections become resistant to primary antibiotics, and alternative antibiotics must be used, health care costs increase. As more infections become more resistant to more antibiotics, we run the risk of losing more of our arsenal of antibiotics, resulting in needless deaths. It's important to consider what we stand to gain versus what we stand to lose," concludes Levy.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has already taken some steps toward stricter regulation of non-therapeutic antibiotic use, acknowledging that the practice is in conflict with protecting the publi
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Contact: Siobhan E. Gallagher
617-636-6586
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert

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