Environmental impacts of beef: antibiotics & growth hormones
Animals arriving to feedlots are given antibiotics in their water for 8 days or so. In the United States, less than 20% of all animals in feedlots were given antibiotic injections, but about 60% received vitamin injections. Most cattle in US feedlots are given growth hormones to increase their weight gain.
Harmful impactsIt is well known that the prophylactic use of antibiotics can lead to bacterial resistance in the animals and in the environment, and that this resistance can even be passed on to bacteria that infect humans.Similarly, the effects of growth hormones in the production of meat may be passed on to people who consume the meat (Program on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors in New York State, 2000).
Unfortunately, virtually no research has been undertaken on the impact of these inputs on the wider environment, either in the vicinity of feedlots or in areas where waste from feedlots or slaughterhouses is disposed.