The European Commission is to consider the use of natural plant extracts as an alternative to antibiotics to promote animal growth.

Brussels said in one case where an antibiotic was used  “a transmissible drug resistance factor arose that jumped to bacteria, which caused infection in man.” As a result the EU has decided to ban all growth promoting agents (GPAs) from the end of 2005.

This could have a “massive effect” on producers of pigs, chickens and fish, Brussels said, and it was therefore “essential that substitutes for GPAs be found if producers are to maintain profitability and competitiveness against overseas producers where such restrictions do not exist.”