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The Source: Are Cattle Feed Yards Creating "Superbugs"?

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Eva Hershaw
/
The Texas Tribune

A new study to be published later this month in the Journal Environmental Health Perspectives says that the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or "superbug," DNA is blowing in the wind and out of large cattle feedlots. According to the study's researchers this is the first time we have seen this DNA airborne.

The overuse of antibiotics on livestock has  been linked in other studies to the creation of antibiotic resistant "Superbugs." In 2012, a study in the journal mBio, found staph germs were passed to pigs, then became antibiotic resistant and found their way back into humans.

The use of antibiotics on livestock has been used since the early 1900s when meat shortages caused the federal government to try and stabilize herds. In 1950, farmers began using it to accelerate animal growth.

Critics of the study say this is not definitive, and that it inflates the associated risks. The Texas Cattle Feeders Association has repeatedly said antibiotics are not overused. 

Guests:

  • Greg Mayer, researcher and professor for the Institute for Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University
  • Phil Smith, environmental toxicologist and professor at Texas Tech University
  • Morgan Scott, veterinary epidemiologist and professor at Texas A&M
Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive