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Are There Antibiotics in Your Lettuce?

August 02, 2007 | 40,218 views

The routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock has released yet another thorn into the proverbial side of your food supply. Those antibiotics are being transferred, via manure, into the U.S. food supply.

University of Minnesota researchers, in a study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, evaluated whether food crops accumulate antibiotics from soil covered with antibiotic-containing manure.

In a greenhouse setting, corn, lettuce and potatoes were grown on soil that contained hog manure with a commonly used veterinary antibiotic added.

The antibiotics were uptaken by all three crops, into both their leaves and tissue. Meanwhile, the antibiotics also transferred to the potato tubers, suggesting that root crops like carrots, radishes and potatoes may be particularly at risk of antibiotic accumulation.

Though the researchers said the effects of consuming plants that contain antibiotics are “largely unknown,” it’s thought that the contamination could cause allergic reactions or the development of antimicrobial resistance (which renders antibiotics ineffective).

The findings also have implications for organic farmers, who often use manure as their main source of fertilizer.

Journal of Environmental Quality July/August 2007, 36:1224-1230

Science Blog July 11, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The fact that crops uptake antibiotics from the soil is disheartening, though not surprising.

When a food supply subsists on counterintuitive, artificial means -- like feeding livestock antibiotics as a matter of course to prevent illness, instead of providing quality food and a decent environment to keep the animals healthy naturally -- there is no end to the havoc that can ensue.

The end result is the “frankenfood” you see in most supermarkets that’s:
This time, however, eating organic is not the answer. Organic crops, which cannot be fertilized with synthetic fertilizers, are the ones most often fertilized with manure. As it stands, manure that contains antibiotics is still allowed under the organic label.

How can you ensure that the food you feed to yourself and your family is pure and healthy? Apart from growing it yourself, your best option is to get to know a local farmer near you -- one who uses non-toxic farming methods. If you live in an urban area, there are increasing numbers of community-supported agriculture programs available that give you access to healthy, locally grown foods even if you live in the heart of the city.

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