July 16, 2009
In the wake of recent Congressional hearings calling for a halt to the use of antibiotics in farm animal production, Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has (IATP) just released a report saying the use of antibiotics in ethanol production is unnecessary.
“The ethanol industry should voluntarily stop the unnecessary use of antibiotics in the production process, particularly because viable alternatives are readily available,” says the IATP report, “Fueling Resistance? Antibiotics in Ethanol Production.”
“The epidemic of antibiotic resistance threatens every one of us,” says IATP’s David Wallinga, M.D. “The best way to keep our existing antibiotics effective is to stop unnecessary antibiotics wherever they are used-in hospitals, in animals and in ethanol production.”
According to IATP, ethanol producers add antibiotics to the ethanol fermentation process to control bacterial outbreaks. And, since there are no reporting requirements for antibiotic use in ethanol production, there are no reliable numbers are available on how widespread the practice is. IATP notes that in 2008, the FDA found residues from four types of antibiotics in dried distillers grains-the nutrient-rich residue sold as livestock feed that is a co-product of ethanol production.
It seems that nearly half of the nation’s 170 ethanol production facilities avoid antibiotic use through readily available alternatives. and many others are exploring ways to stop antibiotic use. “The bad news is that many ethanol facilities are currently using antibiotics. The good news is that they don’t have to,” says IATP’s Jim Kleinschmit.