FDA takes baby step reducing antibiotics pumped into cattle

Home on the Range

Federal drug regulators announced Wednesday that farmers and ranchers must restrict their use of a critical class of antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys because such practices may have contributed to the growing threat of bacterial infections in people that are resistant to treatment.

The medicines belong to a class of antibiotics known as cephalosporins and include such brands as Cefzil and Keflex. They are among the most common antibiotics prescribed to treat strep throat, bronchitis, skin infections and urinary tract infections. Surgeons also often use them before surgery to prevent bacterial infections.

The drugs’ use in agriculture has, according to many microbiologists, led to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the drugs’ effects, a development that many doctors say has endangered the lives of patients.

Antibiotics are often added to animal feed and are used routinely to encourage rapid growth of livestock, but officials at the Food and Drug Administration have been increasingly vocal in their concerns that overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is endangering human health. The agency proposed rules in 2010 to slow the use of penicillin, tetracycline and other antibiotics simply to promote growth or prevent disease in feed animals, but those rules have yet to be made final…

Perish the thought we offend a drug company or the owners of cattle feed lots.

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Feed yard greenhouse gas study begins

That steaming pile ain’t topsoil

U.S. scientists say they are starting a study to determine greenhouse gas emissions from feed yard operations.

Texas A&M University scientists at AgriLife Research in Amarillo, Texas, said they will measure three greenhouse gases: nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane.

Assistant Professor Ken Casey and research chemist Al Caramanica said they will use a Varian gas chromatograph with three detectors set up for automatic injection of gas samples from gas-tight vials. That, they said, will allow simultaneous detection of all three gases from samples taken at feed yards.

“This work will focus primarily on nitrous oxide,” Casey said, noting the gas has approximately 310 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

“We are part of a larger effort to quantify what emissions of greenhouse gas are from feed yards,” he said. “We want to understand the variability and circumstances that create the greatest emissions and determine methodologies that identify the right numbers. Then we want to help identify management practices that can keep them at the lowest possible levels.”

Sorry, I can’t help it. I don’t go out of my way to offend Texas readers of this blog – unless they’re some kind of reactionary git – which can happen anywhere. BUT –

Amarillo is the ultimo place on Earth to run these tests. If you’ve ever overnighted in Amarillo, say, during a nice hot July – you know the odors wafting from the feed lots scattered strategically in and around Amarillo can match any stench on the planet. My clients there used to joke that their biggest fear during a line storm wasn’t tornados; but, a lightning strike setting fire to the atmosphere!