From Bio Journal - March 2013
Closeup: The cause of the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria
Use of antibiotics as growth promoters
The issue of antibiotic contamination of Chinese chicken meat has been in the spotlight recently. At the end of 2012, the supplier for Shanghaifs Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), the Shandong Province commercial poultry farming company Liuhe Jituan, was found to have been using large amounts of a great variety of antibiotics right up to immediately prior to shipping. This poultry company was also supplying to MacDonaldfs. It is also clear that KFC was selling the meat in spite of knowing that it contained high amounts of antibiotic residues. This problem, as well as amplifying the anxiety over the safety of Chinese food products, has also once again thrown into stark relief the use of antibiotics for growth promotion.
The greatest problem associated with the use of large amounts of antibiotics is the danger of losing the ability to treat illnesses due to antibiotic resistant bacteria. Antibiotics are used to kill pathogenic bacteria, but antibiotic resistance causes the loss of the ability to treat diseases and results in more cases of death.
The numbers of antibiotic resistant bacteria are now increasing. An important factor in this is the use of antibiotics in the livestock and marine products industries. Far from being an issue peculiar to China, the problem is already severe in the USA and is becoming serious in Japan.
In the case of livestock and marine products, antibiotics are used less for disease prevention than as growth promoters. The abuse of antibiotics in China is also linked to growth promotion and are fed to livestock by adding antibiotics into feed. If antibiotics are given in such a way as to kill bacteria normally present in the digestive system, nutrients in the feed are not used by the bacteria but are absorbed directly into the body of the animal, resulting in the promotion of more efficient growth. As this feeding method is an important factor in the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, however, the EU has banned the use of antibiotics for growth promotion since 2006.
Antibiotic resistant genes used in GM crops
There are also other factors involved in the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. At present, the vast majority of grain for livestock feed is produced from GM crops, in which antibiotic resistant genes are used. These genes are passed on to the bacteria in the intestines of animals and it has been shown that these genes are contributing to the spread of antibiotic resistance. In addition, antibiotic resistant genes are being heavily used in experiments and applications in biology and genetic engineering, and it has been pointed out that this may also be an important cause in the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. When six Chinese rivers were sampled, they were all found to be contaminated with antibiotic resistant bacteria (Chemical and Engineering News 2013/01/07). Global regulation, including in Japan, of the use of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant genes is now desperately required.
GMO crop approvals for November and December 2012
|Table 1. GM crops approved for open field cultivation (Type 1 usage)|
(Biodiversity Impact Assessment Investigative Commission)
|Maize||Lepidoptera pest resistance and gluphosinate herbicide tolerance||DuPont||186165, OECD UI: DP-186165-2||20 November 2012|
|Maize||Lepidoptera pest resistance and gluphosinate herbicide tolerance||DuPont||186169, OECD UI: DP-186169-6||20 November 2012|
|Maize||Lepidoptera pest resistance and gluphosinate herbicide tolerance||DuPont||187156, OECD UI: DP-187156-3||20 November 2012|
|Soybean||Lepidoptera pest resistance and glyphosate herbicide tolerance||Monsanto Japan||MON87701×MON89788, OECD UI: MON-87701-2×MON-89778-1||20 November 2012|
|Maize||Lepidoptera and coleoptera pest resistance, aryloxyalkanoate, gluphosinate and glyphosate herbicide tolerance||Dow Chemical Japan||MON89034×B.t. Cry1F maize line 1507×MON88017×B.t. Cry34/35Ab1 Event DAS-59122-7×DAS40278, OECD UI: MON-89034-3×DAS-015017-1×MON-88017-3×DAS-59122-7×DAS-40278-9||20 November 2012|
|Maize||Lepidoptera pest resistance and aryloxyalkanoate, gluphosinate and glyphosate herbicide tolerance||Dow Chemical Japan||MON89034×B.t. Cry1F maize line 1507×NK603×DAS40278, OECD UI: MON-89034-3×DAS-01507-1×MON-00603-6×DAS-40278-9||20 November 2012|
|Maize||Lepidoptera pest resistance and gluphosinate and glyphosate herbicide tolerance||DuPont||1507×MON810×MIR162×NK603, OECD UI: DAS-01507-1×MON-00810-6×SYN-IR162-4×MON-00603-6||18 December 2012|
|Maize||Aryloxyalkanoate and glyphosate herbicide tolerance||Dow Chemical Japan||NK603×DAS40278, OECD UI: MON-00603-6×DAS-40278-9||18 December 2012|
|* Technically, approval is granted after public comments have been accepted.|
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