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August 4, 2009

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Agro antibiotics in food under scrutiny

THE city is taking action to monitor the levels of veterinary antibiotic in meat and fish.

Shanghai's agricultural department is carrying out a citywide inspection on veterinary drug use in response to a proposal submitted by a doctor who has suggested setting up a market-entry threshold for agro-antibiotic contents.

Liu Yan, a doctor at Ruijin Hospital and a member of the Shanghai Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said in her proposal that the overuse of agro antibiotics had been neglected.

"Agro-antibiotic abuse will increase drug tolerance and the adaptability that enables pathogenic microorganisms to spread from animals to humans," Liu said.

The spread of swine flu was a good example and should arouse people's awareness, she said.

Though people would not get immediate effects from consuming agro-antibiotic residue in food, levels would accumulate in the body and induce some diseases - even cancer - in the long term, Liu said.

In addition to affecting people's health, agro antibiotics adversely affect the environment as residue enters the soil by various means, according to the proposal.

She said the government still lacked a monitoring system and agro-antibiotic use was not controlled as strictly as antibiotics for medical use.

Liu suggested that inspectors should strictly test for antibiotic residue before food entered markets.

Agricultural officials said a two-month citywide inspection would be completed this month.


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