Overuse of Antibiotics on Farms
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Overuse of Antibiotics on Farms

Though you might have heard alarming news about antibiotic-resistant bacteria, do you stop to think when you’re prescribed antibiotics, whether you need them? Apparently half of all prescribed antibiotics are unnecessary.

But consider that people use less than twenty percent of all antibiotics produced each year. Because more than eighty percent, or 28 million pounds, are used on farm animals. This massive lot of antibiotics is not used to treat sick animals.

Instead, subtherapeutic levels are routinely injected or added to animal water and feed to boost livestock weight, and to compensate for the unsanitary packed conditions of American commercial farms. It’s the perfect petri dish to produce resistant bacteria.

As bacteria multiply in these tight unsanitary conditions, the animals, which include poultry, pig and cattle, are routinely treated with common human antibiotics, including millions of pounds of penicillin. Studies show this long-term subtherapeutic level of antibiotics is more conducive to producing resistant bacteria than the short-term, high-level doses in people.

These resistant can contaminate human food during slaughter, processing, and food preparation. The result is more people dying from foodborne illnesses.

The European Union has already banned all antibiotics for animal growth on farms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants drug companies to voluntarily limit their antibiotics only to sick animals through a veterinary prescription.

The agriculture industry won’t budge, defending their practice as a proven way to produce low cost meat. But follow-up studies of Sweden and Denmark show better handling of farm animals lowered their need for antibiotics, and prices did not jump.

More Americans are expected to die every year from antibiotic resistant infections as bacteria continue to evolve, as fewer antibiotics are developed, and if practices remain unchanged.

 


For more information…

FDA wants limits on antibiotics given to animals
From the Houston Chronicle: "The Food and Drug Administration has called on drug companies to help limit the use of antibiotics in farm animals, a decades-old practice that scientists say has contributed to a surge in dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria."

Antibiotic Resistance in Foodborne Pathogens
A White Paper regarding this important issue from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Overuse of drugs in animal farming linked to growing antibiotic-resistance in humans
From The Ecologist: "It is described as the most 'serious global crisis', yet in the farming industry no-one is talking in such terms."