Some US corn ethanol producers are using penicillin and three other antibiotics in corn fermentation process says Minnesota Public Radio.
Why? To ensure that the yeast they use in fermentation does not have to compete with naturally-occurring bacteria that wants the sugars in the fermenting mash itself. My emphasis
I think that this matters on two counts:
One of the major revenue steams from ethanol producers is to sell the spent grain as protein-rich animal feed called distillers grains. There are strict limits in some countries on the amount of antibiotics in food produced by animals fed on this.
If the FDA, which carried out the study on distillers grains from 60 ethanol plants in the US were to strictly limit the amount of antibiotics in distillers grains, the future of many of the plants in the US would be called into doubt.
The second, more far reaching effect is about antibiotic-tolerant bacteria. The FDA researched 60 samples across the US, and found Penicillin, virginiamycin, erythromycin and tylosin in the samples.
Virginiamyacin plays an important role in human medicine for the very ill, it is used to treat endocarditis or meningitis. Here’s just how important in a quote from the University of Michigan.
Thenext AGP on the list is virginiamycin. Now virginiamycin is related toSynercid, which is an antibiotic that was just marketed for [vancomycin-resistant enterococcus]VRE in theUS in 1999, and this is after we went 10 years in US hospitals withouthaving any antibiotics to treat VRE. Yet here it is, literally, out inour food chain. Virginiamycin has been used in US animals since 1974.It was banned by the European Union in 1998. One study by L. CliffordMcDonald that appeared in The New England Journal of Medicinein 2001 found that about 17-87 percent of chickens tested insupermarkets in four different states, harbored this streptogram orquinupristin/dalfopristin-resistant organism.
By using antibiotics in these ways, isn’t it possible that the US corn ethanol industry is helping to breed new strains of bacteria that resist virginiamycin and other antibiotics that are used to save lives. Does your plant use antibiotics? How do you feel about it? Let me know.
Why? To ensure that the yeast they use in fermentation does not have to compete with naturally-occurring bacteria that wants the sugars in the fermenting mash itself.