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Chickens, Cows and Pigs on Drugs

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About 9.3 million kilograms (20.5 million pounds) of antibiotics were given to animals in 1999, up 15 per cent from 1998, according to the Animal Health Institute (AHI). The trade group held that 80 per cent were used for therapeutic purposes, although many of the drugs do double as growth promoters.

About 9.3 million kilograms (20.5 million pounds) of antibiotics were given to animals in 1999, up 15 per cent from 1998, according to the Animal Health Institute (AHI). The trade group held that 80 per cent were used for therapeutic purposes, although many of the drugs do double as growth promoters. Environmentalists say that the AHI's estimates are much too low. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 11.1 million kilograms (24.6 million pounds) of antibiotics--about 70 per cent of total US antibiotic production--are fed to livestock animals such as chickens, pigs and cows for non-therapeutic purposes. Public health officials are concerned that the overuse of antibiotics in livestock production is causing new strains of bacteria and disease-resistance in humans. The European Union has made a start by banning farmers from force-feeding healthy animals antibiotics that have human uses, such as penicillin or tetracycline.Associated Press, Feb. 16, 2001

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