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April 2000 Planet Main
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  April 2000 Features:
Sequoia Protection At Hand
Club Leader Wins Right to Speak
Livestock Antibiotics Can Threaten Human Health
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The Planet
Livestock Antibiotics Can Threaten Human Health

by Johanna Congleton

About one-third of the antibiotics used in the United States each year, roughly 16 million pounds, is routinely added to animal feed to speed the growth of livestock.

This practice has resulted in the spread of bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli, that are resistant to antibiotics - some of which are used to treat human diseases. If humans eat meats containing antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they run the risk that next time they use antibiotics, the drugs might not work. This leaves people vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses and increases the cost of treatment.

In 1997, the World Health Organization called for a ban on using antibiotics to promote livestock growth. Other public health agencies, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have raised concerns about administering medically vital antibiotics to fatten livestock.

A fact sheet on the problems and solutions to adding antibiotics to livestock feed is available through the Sierra Club's Clean Water Campaign. Please contact Ed Hopkins, senior Washington representative, at or (202) 675-7908 to request copies of the fact sheet or more information.

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