Letter: Antibiotic abuse

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The Independent Online
I AM concerned about a strange new turn taken in the argument over GM foods: the notion that GM crops must be banned on grounds of health because of the supposed likelihood of inducing antibiotic resistance in common diseases. There is great cause for concern about the occurrence of antibiotic resistance, which increasingly involves serious disease- causing organisms. But there is no evidence of this resistance arising from the use of antibiotic resistance marker genes. Much evidence points instead to the misuse and overuse of the antibiotics themselves as the primary cause. If the supermarkets are really concerned about antibiotic resistance, they would do far better to aim to curtail the use of antibiotics in animal feed, rather than worrying about GM foods. In fact, if the concern over GM food is at all related to eating it, then it must be compared directly with its alternatives. The risk to health of eating non-GM food with its concomitant herbicide and pesticide residues is equally unclear, yet it has been the norm for some time now and seems set to continue.

DUNCAN R SIMPSON

Cambridge

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