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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Improving Nutrient Utilization in Western Irrigated Crop Production Systems

Location: Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research

Title: Current knowledge on the environmental fate, potential impact, and management of growth-promoting steroids used in the US beef cattle industry

Authors
item Biswas, S. -
item Shapiro, Charles -
item Kranz, William -
item Mader, Terry -
item Shelton, David -
item Snow, Daniel -
item Bartelt-Hunt, Shannon -
item Tarkalson, David
item Van Donk, Simon -
item Zhang, Tian -
item Ensley, Steve -

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 7, 2012
Publication Date: June 24, 2013
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/56931
Citation: Biswas, S., Shapiro, C.A., Kranz, W.L., Mader, T.L., Shelton, D.P., Snow, D.D., Bartelt-Hunt, S.L., Tarkalson, D.D., Van Donk, S.J., Zhang, T.C., Ensley, S. 2013. Current knowledge on the environmental fate, potential impact, and management of growth-promoting steroids used in the US beef cattle industry. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 68(4):325-336.

Interpretive Summary: Growth promoting steroids and steroid-like compounds (GPSC) used by the US beef cattle industry are potential contaminants to water resources. Manure generated in concentrated animal feeding operations contains GPSCs that may enter the environment. Several studies have focused on off-site impacts of GPSC in aquatic life and suggest possible adverse impacts such as abnormal blood hormone levels, masculinization of females, feminization of males, altered sex ratios, intersexuality and reduced fertility. Other studies point to potential human health impacts including increased incidence of human cancers, sexual disorders, and decline in male: female ratio in human beings. However, the use of GPSCs in beef production provides benefits to both cattle producers (less time and cost to raise cattle) and consumers (lower meat prices) and to some extent on the environment. This review discusses major scientific findings and issues related to the use of GPSCs by the cattle industry, their environmental impacts, existing knowledge gaps and potential strategies to manage GPSC movement in the environment. We found that although there have been many studies, there is no consensus on the extent of the problem, and the effects in the environment. Current environmental regulations could be adapted to include GPSCs if necessary.

Technical Abstract: Growth promoting steroids and steroid-like compounds (GPSC) used by the US beef cattle industry are potential contaminants to water resources. Manure generated in concentrated animal feeding operations contains GPSCs that may enter the environment. Several studies have focused on off-site impacts of GPSC in aquatic life and suggest possible adverse impacts such as abnormal blood hormone levels, masculinization of females, feminization of males, altered sex ratios, intersexuality and reduced fertility. Other studies point to potential human health impacts including increased incidence of human cancers, sexual disorders, and decline in male: female ratio in human beings. However, the use of GPSCs in beef production provides benefits to both cattle producers (less time and cost to raise cattle) and consumers (lower meat prices) and to some extent on the environment. This review discusses major scientific findings and issues related to the use of GPSCs by the cattle industry, their environmental impacts, existing knowledge gaps and potential strategies to manage GPSC movement in the environment. We found that although there have been many studies, there is no consensus on the extent of the problem, and the effects in the environment. Current environmental regulations could be adapted to include GPSCs if necessary.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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