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Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 11:44 GMT

Talking Point

Should antibiotics be banned in animal feed?

Do you worry about the barrage of stories telling you that meat is bad for you? Would you pay more to make sure the food you give your family is 'safe'?

Well a possible ban of antibiotic substances in animal feed could see people in the UK paying up to 10% more for their meat.

The agriculture ministers of the European Union are meeting this week, and are expected to support such a ban.

The European Commission says that the overuse of antibiotics in farming could reduce their effectiveness in humans.

But farmers are seriously concerned that an absence of antibiotics could lead to disease-ridden herds.

Do you think banning these drugs from animal feed will make meat safer? And if so will you pay more for your meat?

UK Agriculture Minister Nick brown intends to vote for the ban. He says the potential danger to human health would outweigh an increase in the cost of meat.

"On the precautionary principle, it's right to suspend the use of these four growth promoters until more evidence emerges," he said.

However manufacturers of antibiotics say they are set to lose millions of pounds if the ban is approved.

Dennis Erplelding of pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly says they have been used safely for more than thirty years on farms.

"The whole burden should not be put on farmers," he said. "There are other antibiotics used more broadly in human health as well as environmental. It is important to remember the overall perspective."

What do you think?

Should antibiotics be banned in animal feed?

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