The Environmental Impact of Growth-Promoting Compounds Employed by the United States Beef Cattle Industry: History, Current Knowledge, and Future Directions
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Recent publications in the popular literature (Renner 2002; Raloff 2002) have suggested that the growth-promoting compounds used on beef cattle in the United States may have significant impacts on local aquatic environments. Clearly, beef cattle held in finishing feedlots represent a greater environmental risk than do pasture-fed cattle for at least two principal reasons. First, cattle in feedlots are held at much higher concentrations than on pastureland. Second, most cattle in feedlots are administered high-potency growth-promoting compounds (Montgomery et al. 2001). Research has shown that these compounds can travel in the environment (Lange et al. 2002) and that they may cause endocrine-disrupting effects on local fish populations (Orlando et al. 2004).
In this review, our principal hypothesis is that the environmental risks associated with finishing beef cattle feedlots are best dealt with when there is a thorough understanding of (1) the implant strategies used at feedlots, (2) the environmental fate of the growth-promoting compounds used on the feedlot, and (3) the effect that these growth promoters have on fishes should they reach surface waters. This chapter reviews the current state of knowledge and points out areas where additional research is warranted.
KeywordsBeef Cattle Poultry Litter Fathead Minnow Japanese Medaka Polar Organic Integrative Chemical Sampler
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