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Chapter 10. Restricting Antibiotic Use a... > Agricultural Use Contributes to Anti...

Agricultural Use Contributes to Antibiotic Consumption

Farmers use roughly ten times the antibiotic tonnage as employed in human medicine. Some of this antibiotic use is for sick animals, some is for prophylaxis, and some is to improve the growth and performance of animals.195 Farmers found, in the 1940s, that animals grow faster when fed dried parts of Streptomyces aureofaciens, which contains a derivative of tetracycline.196 In 1951, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the use of antibiotics as growth promoters, and European countries followed with similar approvals. Farmers’ groups have argued that concentrations of these growth promoters are so low that they have little consequence for resistance. How antibiotic growth promoters work is not known precisely. In some cases, they may act by lowering the bacterial load or by shifting the relative abundance of commensal flora in the animals. In other cases, they appear to act by suppressing disease. In each of these applications, the drugs appear to apply some selective pressure.


  

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