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Even biogas plants cannot filter residual antibiotics
Tons of antibiotics are used every year in cattle breeding to keep animals healthy in the mass farming system. A large part of the antibiotics is excreted by the animals and thus gets into the manure. This is then applied to the fields. This means that antibiotic residues get unfiltered onto the agricultural land, where resistant germs are becoming increasingly common. The German Federal Environmental Foundation reports on the results of a current research project.
In a current project, the Justus Liebig University of Gießen, on behalf of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), examined the relationships between antibiotics in the manure and the increase in resistant bacteria. Since liquid manure is often fermented in biogas plants before it is used, it was checked whether antibiotics can be removed there in order to reduce the emissions into the environment. The project comes to the conclusion that this is unfortunately not possible.
Antibiotics must be reduced in the barn
"Antibiotics have to be reduced in the barn when they are awarded in order to protect people, animals and the environment", emphasizes DBU General Secretary Alexander Bonde in a press release on the project. In the joint project, the researchers looked for alternative solutions to filter the antibiotics out of the manure. However, the active ingredients withstood different temperatures and the addition of acids and salts. The filter tests had no significant impact on the remaining stocks.
A global problem
According to the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety, 733 tons of antibiotics were used in livestock farming in Germany alone in 2017. However, this is not only the case in Germany. "Antibiotics can be found in liquid manure samples and fermentation residues from biogas plants worldwide," explains project manager Dr. Astrid Spielmeyer from the Institute of Food Chemistry and Food Biotechnology at the University of Gießen. In regions with intensive agriculture, both the antibiotic sales through the veterinarians and the resistant germ contamination in the soil are most pronounced.
Agricultural land as a nest for resistant pathogens
"Around a third of the antibiotics given in veterinary medicine belong to the antibacterial sulfonamides and tetracyclines," explains Spielmeyer. Tetracycline is also used as a broad-spectrum antibiotic in humans. This active ingredient is used in particular when the pathogens cannot be precisely identified. Resistant pathogens have already been detected in the fields for the two antibiotic groups mentioned. The results of the project were published in a freely visible final report on the DBU website. (vb)
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