The Antibiotic Threat
With the Ebola outbreak in Germany, food safety is getting a few days of attention before people start ignoring it again. Nicholas Kristof takes advantage of the situation to write about one of the biggest threats to public health, the use of antibiotics in farms on healthy animals.
The Food and Drug Administration reported recently that 80 percent of antibiotics in the United States go to livestock, not humans. And 90 percent of the livestock antibiotics are administered in their food or water, typically to healthy animals to keep them from getting sick when they are confined in squalid and crowded conditions.
The single state of North Carolina uses more antibiotics for livestock than the entire United States uses for humans.
This cavalier use of low-level antibiotics creates a perfect breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant pathogens. The upshot is that ailments can become pretty much untreatable.
The risk is monumental. As Kristof notes, 5000 people die annually because of food-borne illnesses and growing antibiotic resistance could increase the death toll dramatically. Big Ag has fought bans of feeding antibiotics to healthy animals. But doing so would save more lives than almost any measure we’ve taken to fight terrorism.Click here for reuse options!
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