How Has Antibiotic Resistance Become Such a Huge Problem?

Cattle holding yards. (Screenshot/YouTube)
Cattle holding yards. (Screenshot/YouTube)

It is not widely known that 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used on livestock and poultry, not humans. Most of the animals aren’t even sick. Within the meat industry, it is common practice to mix these drugs in their food and water. It is to substitute for healthier living conditions and to help the livestock to grow faster.

Chicken farm Image: Screenshot/YouTube

Chicken factory farm. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The problem with feeding antibiotics to animals that are not sick is that it kills off weak bacteria and creates the perfect environment for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to multiply and thrive. When the meat industry routinely misuses and overuses antibiotics in this way, it threatens public health, and essential drugs no longer work to treat infections in the general population. This makes us all less safe, said the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Stop the superbugs:

The overuse of antibiotics by humans is also an important part of the problem, but changing the way the industry uses antibiotics would certainly go a long way in helping. It’s time for the industry to act more responsibly, and use antibiotics to treat sick animals only.

Factory farms, antibiotics, and superbugs: Lance Price at TEDxManhattan

The Centers for Disease Control in its own report in 2013, called “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States,” said:“Up to half of antibiotic use in humans and much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary and inappropriate, and makes everyone less safe.”

There is a coalition of prominent medical and public health groups that have warned that the “overuse and misuse of important antibiotics in food animals must end, in order to protect human health.”

Drugs make bugs:

Yet even in the face of the scientific consensus—and its own acknowledgement of the risks—the Food and Drug Administration has failed to take meaningful action to curb antibiotic misuse and overuse in the meat industry.

It’s the FDA’s job to protect our food, our health, and our families.

But all the agency has been willing to do is recommend that drug manufacturers and the meat industry voluntarily give up only some of their problematic antibiotic uses. Its voluntary guidelines are full of loopholes and leave action up to the industry. The agency continues to give a free pass to the meat industry to use antibiotics routinely as a substitute for healthier living conditions inside industrial farms, wrote NRDC.

Turkey Farm Image: Screenshot/YouTube

Turkey Farm
Image: Screenshot/YouTube

Well, I guess there are no more problems now, since there are some voluntary guidelines that they can follow. The guidelines ask the drug manufacturers to voluntarily stop selling antibiotics to speed up animal growth. With the industry making up about 80% of their sales from this source, I’m sure they will voluntary stop.

It seems to me that there is a very simple solution—make it law, not voluntary!

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