Monday, March 3, 2014

New test for illegal livestock drugs

Scientists in Ireland have found a new way to detect the illegal use of drugs and hormones that cheaters in both agriculture and sports have been known to employ.

A team at the Irish Equine Centre of Queen’s University at Belfast their new way to test for illegal drugs is fast, cheap, effective and can be applied on a large scale.

It could be used to detect banned growth promoters, hormones and antibiotics . It detects and monitors the known biological effects of a banned substance, rather than the presence of the substance itself.

“Current testing methods focus on detecting the presence of illegal substances in animals. These tests are expensive, time consuming and have failed to keep pace with black market developments in producing, distributing and administering banned substances,” said Dr. Mark Mooney of the university’s Institute for Global Food Security.

“By identifying the unique biochemical fingerprints that banned substances leave behind in an illicitly treated animal’s blood or urine, we will be able to quickly identify horses or cattle that have been treated with an illegal drug,” he said.

“Despite being banned for over 20 years, the use of illegal growth promoters, hormones and antibiotics is believed to still occur across parts of Europe and further afield,” said professor Chris Elliott, the institute’s director.

“The criminal gangs that operate the global trade in illegal animal drugs have developed the means of avoiding detection by conventional testing methods and new ways to detect this illicit trade are urgently required.”

One of the main abuses detected by Canadian officials has been the illegal administration of clenbuterol to raise veal calves.