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Campaign Against Antibiotics Stepped Up

22 December 2011

ANALYSIS - The campaign against the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock production in the US was stepped up this week with renewed appeals from Congresswoman Louise Slaughter for the practice to be ended.

The campaign will undoubtedly be met with cries of anguish from some sections of the US farming community, who regularly use antibiotics to enhance feed conversion and boost weight gain.

However, there is a growing clamour of concern over the potential for a growth in antibiotic resistance in humans being passed on by eating meat from animals raised this way.

There is particular concern over the salmonella strain, Salmonella typhimurium, which is resistant to multiple antibiotics important for human health including beta-lactams, animoglycosides, and cephalosporins.

Congresswoman Slaughter has introduced a bill to phase out the practice using antibiotics.

"The routine, regular dosing of antibiotics to healthy animals is absolutely contributing to the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria," she said.

Meanwhile, the US beef and pig meat industries are reporting an increase in exports.

During October beef exports were up 10.7 per cent compared to a year ago and beef imports were down 4.4 per cent and pork exports were up 42 per cent compared to a year ago and pork imports were down 11 per cent.

October has seen net exports of pork, beef, broiler and turkey meat hit the highest month ever at 1.225 billion pounds and also represented the largest per cent of total US monthly production at 15.5 per cent.

The October results for pork exports were the second highest month ever at 438 million pounds year on year. Exports to China/Hong Kong were up 277 per cent, Japan up 38 per cent, South Korea up 65 per cent and Canada up 27 per cent.

This is reflected in global trade as Europe is also reporting strong exports of both beef and pork, with the EU now becoming a net exporter of beef following years of being a net importer.

The dynamics seen in the US pork exports with the majority going to Asia points to where the new demand is.

Chris Harris

Chris Harris

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