Use of Drugs in Ethanol Production Incites Concern

State reps are troubled over a report linking ethanol grains—common livestock feed—to antibiotic resistance.


Following last week’s story about the possible role of farm runoff in spreading superbugs, government officials are growing concerned over another overlooked and unregulated potential source of antibiotic resistance. Last week, members of Congress questioned the US Food and Drug Administration about ethanol byproducts’ antibiotic levels after a recent Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy report revealed that leftover distiller grains are routinely fed to livestock. Because ethanol producers have no restrictions on the quantity and frequency of antibiotic use during the fermentation process, farm animals may be consuming potentially hazardous amounts—a fact researchers say may threaten public health. In a letter to the FDA Commissioner, Representatives Ed Markey and Louise Slaughter ask for clarification regarding the agency’s apparent inaction surrounding the issue.

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