The bugs – house flies and German cockroaches – were from two different commercial swine operations, one in Kansas and one in North Carolina.
Researchers from Kansas State University and North Carolina State University examined bacteria in the insects’ intestines and found them to be resistant to tetracycline, erythromycin, streptomycin and kanamycin, which are all antibiotics that are commonly prescribed to treat human illnesses.
The researchers expressed concern that because the insects traveled freely between animal waste and animal food supplies, they played a huge part in spreading the drug-resistant bacteria within the pig farms.
Another rather terrifying concern was that the insects are likely spreading the drug-resistant bacteria to the residential areas nearby.
The overuse of antibiotics has long been a concern for those who follow the animal agriculture industry carefully. Eighty percent of the antibiotics in the US are given to farm animals to promote growth. It only takes a cursory understanding of the nature of antibiotics to understand that overuse of antibiotics will only lead to more drug resistant pathogens. With billions of animals packed together being pumped full of drugs, it’s inevitably going to create pathogens that have had plenty of opportunities to evolve resistances.
The trouble is that it would be extremely difficult to reduce the amount of antibiotics without drastically reducing the production of meat. Americans eat more meat than we ever have and the rate is still rising. As much as we may abhor many agricultural practices, most of them are economic necessities.
Animal agriculture is a very inefficient practice that requires growing plants to feed to animals and raising those animals to be big enough to slaughter. Factory farming and widespread antibiotic use are inevitable when trying to feed Americans the amount of meat they want to eat.
The only way that we’re going to stop overusing antibiotics in livestock is if we stop raising livestock altogether. By going vegan, you reduce the amount of trace antibiotics that you’re consuming, but if we do not work to educate others and change our diets on a large scale, then us vegans are simply going to fall victim to the drug-resistant diseases that are being bred by everyone else’s eating habits.
We’re all in this together. The only way to stop this terrifying process and halt a potential epidemic is to change our agricultural habits on the macro scale. Transferring our huge volume of demand to organic or “humane” farms isn’t feasible because they couldn’t meet the demand without implementing many of the measures we abhor in factory farms.
It’s time to start thinking about veganism because it might be the only thing to save us and the animals at the same time.