Is Antibiotic Use on Factory Farms Making Us Sick?
Three years ago, the Pew Charitable Trust started a campaign to see what the effects of animal farming were on human and animal health and the environment.
The results called for curbing the use of antibiotics on farms in order to keep them more effective for human use, in addition to encouraging farms to improve sanitation.
What’s the problem with antibiotic use anyway?
The problem is that animals receiving low doses of antibiotics on a regular basis are like walking petri dishes for bacterial growth that can result in antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.
These types of bacteria can then be spread through animals, eating and handling meat and dairy products, along with other fruits, vegetables and water that have been exposed to manure that’s used as fertilizer and finds its way into the water supply.
“Human antibiotics are routinely misused on factory farms to promote faster animal growth and compensate for crowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions,” said Robert Martin, a senior officer with the Pew Environment Group.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, 50 million pounds of antibiotics have been used on farms in the past two years, which is about 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S.
U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter just introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) on Tuesday.
This bill would result in phasing out the use of antibiotics on livestock, unless it’s being used to treat sick animals, along with providing funding for institutions who want to work with producers on this cause.
“Medical experts agree that this practice directly contributes to a dramatic rise in antibiotic-resistant infections in people. We must reduce the use of antibiotics today to help preserve their effectiveness tomorrow,” said Martin.
According to a study done by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, there were 18,000 deaths in 2005 alone that were caused by antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureusis infections, which was higher than the number of HIV/AIDS related deaths.
For more info check out Pew Charitable Trust’s Human Health and Industrial Farming website.