Use of growth-promoting antibiotics in chicken feed is a financial loser for poultry growers, says a Johns Hopkins University economics study. Using data from poultry giant Perdue, the study concluded the benefits of accelerated chicken growth with such use of antibiotics were offset by the products' cost, with the total cost rising by about 1¢/chicken.

In a news release, the Keep Antibiotics Working coalition (KAW) admits Perdue, Tyson, Gold Kist and Foster Farms eschew use of growth-promoting antibiotics but says the claims are unverified as the government doesn't collect drug use data. The organization supports federal legislation, "The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, (H.R. 2562/ S. 742), sponsored by Edward Kennedy (D-MA), incoming chairman of the Senate Health Committee. The bill would phase out the use of antibiotics that are important in human medicine as animal feed additives within two years.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) opposes such Congressional action, however. On its Web site, NCBA says its members are "strongly opposed to Congressional action in determining the safety and efficacy of antibiotics. This is the role of the Food and Drug Administration, and we ask Congress to empower the agency to do their job effectively, based on science, in an open, transparent process."
-- Joe Roybal