Some pork producers wasting antibiotics

A few piglets

Photo by Flickr user Edmund Yeo, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

NPR’s Dan Charles has filed a number of thoughtful reports on modern agriculture, including the use of antibiotics in factory farming of livestock. Another one hit the airwaves and web yesterday:

It’s one of the most controversial practices in agriculture: feeding small amounts of antibiotics to animals in order to make them grow faster.

But what if the drugs don’t even work very well?

There’s some good evidence that they don’t, at least in pigs. They used to deliver a boost in growth, but that effect has disappeared in recent years or declined greatly.

The reason for this is interesting and even paradoxical.

Head here for the full audio and text versions of the story.

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