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Pig Farms Breed Drug-Resistant Diseases

Pig Farms Breed Drug-Resistant Diseases

Researchers have found that bugs on commercial pig farms carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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.

Related Stories: 

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FDA Urges Meat Industry to Reduce Antibiotic Use

 

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Photo: Jhoc

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101 comments

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10:24PM PST on Mar 6, 2011

actually Mara, if more people went vegan we would need less space to feed everyone. also vegan farming (without animal wastes) is a clean and effective method already practiced in many places around the world.

10:28AM PST on Mar 2, 2011

Beyond the already toxic environment of the modern world which has created the countless new diseases such as MS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, Auto-immune disease, Autism, Fibromyalgia, and many more from the pollution of industry, the toxic textiles, and Big Pharma. We can follow the research to the birth of our latest epidemics. Factory Farms. From Bird-flu to H1n1 Mad Cow disease and many others. Factory Farms have served as a Petri dish to common super bugs and viruses the world over with the lack of sanitation, over use of antibiotics, and unnatural environment. Stopping factory farms would show a large improvement in the over health of this planet for us as well as our animal friends. We need to make the sacrifice, or we will reap what we sow when the next large epidemic sweeps the world. I pray that doesn't happen.
Knowledge is Power. Truth is Love. Don't Be Afraid.

12:16PM PST on Feb 25, 2011

Just one more reason to become vegetarian. Meat-eaters have no control over the production and distribution of their food. You can't be safe, only cross your fingers and wait for the next government recall (mothers, you're responsible for what your children are ingesting -- you can wean into vegetarianism one food at a time. I just eliminated the last animal, shrimp and fish. And you can enjoy and be happy about it. It's not a chore.)

9:25PM PST on Feb 8, 2011

interestng and thanx

6:59PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Clara, sweetheart, get informed. Do some research behind obesity and the linked diseases in America; look into the politics of the food industry; look at who tells us what to eat (the USDA... conflict of interest... hello); look at the impact the farming industry has on the environment. There are many reasons people choose to be vegan other than ethics and morals, and also... we usually could care less if you're clogging your arteries with cholesterol.

11:19AM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Wow another propaganda lie fest. This is what people are going to think and ignore the article if you wanted to make a real impact then skip the vegan rhetorical and try to help the animals not push a diet which most people will not do. Articles like this hurt the animals more than help them.

7:40AM PST on Feb 7, 2011

In 1951, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved antibiotic use in feed in low doses in feed to help animals gain weight more efficiently by controlling the bacteria that can interfere with their ability to absorb nutrients. Animals become healthier, grow faster and stronger, and fewer die from disease.

This led to the further industrialization of animal husbandry which has in turn increased processors’ dependence on antibiotics because factory farm animals tend to be sicker and feed-lot diets can encourage bacterial infections.

IN ADDITION, it is widely accepted that the primary cause of drug resistance diseases is the overuse and misuse of antibiotics by humans. In some cases, doctors prescribe or patients demand the drugs too frequently or inappropriately, such as for illnesses that are not caused by bacteria and do not respond to antibiotics. In other cases, patients fail to complete the prescribed course of an antibiotic treatment, making it more likely that surviving bacteria will develop resistance to the drug.

However your statement: “The only way that we're going to stop overusing antibiotics in livestock is if we stop raising livestock altogether.” Is not only inaccurate but a lie. Personally I shop for natural and organic food’s that are guaranteed to be free of antibiotics, artificial hormones and growth-promoting drugs and in which no animal by-products are used in the feed given to the animals, and encourage others to d

6:41AM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Certainly I do not have the answer, but certainly I do not need eating meat or fish. Tomorrow is the great day, my three olive-trees have arrived and with them I will buy seeds for my little piece of soil I have prepared using spade, hoe and hope of a better place for everyone. We do not need killing for living.

7:54PM PST on Feb 6, 2011

The powers that be would rather die rich than protect future generations. It's always about money. I don't know that going vegan is the answer. We still need room to grow enough to feed the masses. Without the balance of nitrogen from animal waste, we'd need to rely on chemical fertilizers and pesticides in order to grow enough for everyone without depleting the soil. The answer is EVERYTHING IN MODERATION starting with voluntary birth control. The less people on the planet, the less food we need, the more fish & wildlife can replenish themselves, etc.... Otherwise, we're headed for the worst famine in history. Has everyone seen the "Mad Max" movies. That will be our future!

3:15PM PST on Feb 6, 2011

Yikes!!

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