IATP Says Ethanol Producers are Ignoring Regulations on Antibiotics
A new investigation has found that unapproved antibiotics are being used in ethanol production and ending up in animal feed. Julia Olmstead, senior program associate with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, says producers and the FDA are turning a blind eye, because currently no antibiotics are approved for use in making ethanol.
“They’re being marketed in contradiction to federal regulation, but the FDA isn’t actively regulating that. We’re saying that the FDA should immediately prohibit antibiotic sales to the ethanol industry, until and if they are approved.”
The unregulated use is compounding the overuse of antibiotics in the raising of farm animals, Olmstead says, beause the antibiotics remain in the leftover mash that is sold to livestock producers as feed.
“Over time, feeding these low doses continually to animals means that the weak and treatable bacteria are being killed off, but the strong ones are not. So we get into these situations where we have infections both in animals and in humans that we have no way of treating.”
Viable alternatives to the use of antibiotics in ethanol production are available, she adds.
“A lot of producers do use those. POET, the world’s largest ethanol producer, is now entirely antibiotic free. But a lot of producers are hesitant I think to make the switch.”
Because of that hesitation, Olmstead urges either the federal or state government to step in to provide support to help producers make the transition.
The report is available at http://www.iatp.org.