Reasons to Limit Antibiotics in Farm Animals

The overuse or misuse of antibiotics in farm animals can cause antibiotic resistance, which is a condition whereby the antibiotic used doesn’t kill all the bacteria; or some bacteria have found a way to fight off the antibiotic, thus causing the bacteria to mutate and join with other bacteria to create a more highly resistant bacteria. Harmful bacteria can pass on to humans through the food chain and through the environment through groundwater contamination and other forms of contamination.

Highly resistant bacteria may be harder to kill with an antibiotic; and a new antibiotic will have to be invented to kill the new bacteria. This may be the beginning of a new antibiotic resistant disease that could be dangerous to the human population.

Typically, farmers who raise farm animals, such as chickens, pigs, and cows for human consumption, give their animals small doses of antibiotics in order to ensure faster growth and healthy animals due to the usual crowded and unsanitary conditions of the mass-production farm industry.

However, since 1977, research has shown that the use of antibiotics in farm animals is not safe, due to antibiotic resistance.  ‘In 1977, the FDA first determined that using penicillins and tetracyclines to make animals grow faster was no longer “shown to be safe.” ‘

The FDA has released a new antibiotic plan to help control the antibiotic use in farm animals. The USDA is also working on this new plan. However, according to some sources the plan is not strict enough and is still a voluntary plan and needs further improvement in order to stop the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in farm animals.

According to Chipotle Mexican Grill, the FDA needs to do more to assure the safety of the environment by being stricter about the use of antibiotics in farm animals.

“FDA’s proposed plan asks, but does not require, chicken, beef and pork producers to reduce the quantities of antibiotics given to animals to promote growth, while allowing for continued antibiotic use for the treatment, prevention and control of illness. Under the plan, antibiotic use in feed would require a prescription.”  “But scientists have long said that overuse use of antibiotics in meat could cause humans to develop dangerous, drug-resistant infections.”

Antibiotic resistance

What is antibiotic resistance? Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria continue to grow after the use of an antibiotic. They will continue to grow and multiply at an even faster rate than before and attach themselves to other bacteria forming a new and resistant strain of a disease or a totally new disease without an antibiotic that can combat this new disease.

So why is the use of antibiotics in farm animals so dangerous? According to an article in Scientific American, “…the treatment provides just enough antibiotic to kill some but not all bacteria. The germs that survive are typically those that happen to bear genetic mutations for resisting the antibiotic. They then reproduce and exchange genes with other microbial resisters. Because bacteria are found literally everywhere, resistant strains produced in animals eventually find their way into people as well. You could not design a better system for guaranteeing the spread of antibiotic resistance.”

The “Super Bug”

When low doses of antibiotics are fed to farm animals, and antibiotic resistance occurs, an infectious disease can be produced called a “super bug.” This super bug is totally resistant to any form of treatment and could pose a fatal environment or both animals and humans.

“More and more frequently, we are seeing outbreaks of dangerous infections caused by such superbugs. Over the past few decades, the use of antibiotics has enabled us to control many serious infectious diseases. However, as resistant strains become more widespread due to natural and inevitable evolutionary adjustments, antibiotics will cease to be the effective tool they have been for physicians and patients to control infectious diseases.”

The best formula for success in the farm industry is that no antibiotics should be used unless one animal has become sick. This animal can be isolated and treated. But to treat all the farm animals with low doses of antibiotics is, as according to the above statement, an invitation to infectious disease disaster among both the animal population and the human population.

Animals should be raised naturally in sanitary conditions to ensure their good growth and good health, and to ensure the health of the human population worldwide.