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Re: E-M:/ Protest against Vreba Hoff LLC tour of Dutch farmers

Enviro-Mich message from "David Zaber" <dzaber@chorus.net>

Folks concerned about Michigan's manure massacre may be interested in this
article which appeared in Science News Online,
Week of June 29, 2002; Vol. 161, No. 26.

Pharm Pollution
Excreted antibiotics can poison plants
Janet Raloff

Patrick K. Jjemba was curious about the interplay of protozoa and the
bacteria they eat in soil. As part of his research, he began altering the
organisms' environment. When he applied large amounts of protozoan-killing
antibiotics to dirt around the roots of soybeans, Jjemba was amazed at what
happened. The drugs-widely used in human and veterinary medicine-did far
more than subtly alter the balance of microbial predators and prey. One drug
stunted soybeans, and another killed the plants.

The University of Cincinnati microbiologist realized he was sailing into
largely uncharted waters. Though a growing body of research has documented
the presence of antibiotics in the environment, most concerns have focused
on what harm these antimicrobials might pose to people, fish, or aquatic
birds (SN: 3/23/02, p. 182: Available to subscribers at
http://www.sciencenews.org/20020323/fob6.asp). These drugs, excreted by
people and livestock treated with them, enter open waters primarily from
sewage effluent and farm runoff.

The widespread environmental presence of such antibiotics raises the
prospect that an increasing share of microbes will become resistant to them
(SN: 6/5/99, p. 356: http://www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc99/6_5_99/fob1.htm).
However, there's been little discussion of whether these drugs could harm

Farmers apply large quantities of sewage sludge and manure to their fields,
yet only a few studies have probed possible crop impacts of the accompanying
antibiotics. Preliminary findings from those investigations, most conducted
in Europe, paint a disquieting picture: A wide range of plants-from weeds to
field crops-are susceptible to antibiotic poisoning.

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