The New England Journal of Medicine published an article recently giving scientific evidence linking antibiotic use in agriculture to the presence of drug-resistant pathogens in animals. The use of antibiotics in "farm" animals is also causing drug resistance in humans. Farmers routinely use antibiotic drugs to treat diseases in "livestock" and to promote growth (and more profits). Most bacteria exposed to these antibiotics are killed, but some survive. The resistant bugs multiply and can be passed on to humans through pollution of ground-water with animal wastes and thence into drinking water and raw vegetables as well as through the consumption of undercooked meat and animal products.
What does this mean? It means that resistant strains of bacteria threaten conventional medicine's ability to treat human diseases.
The United States Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is drafting new regulations that may change radically not only how antibiotics are tested in the future but also their use in animals. Five consumer groups have petitioned the FDA to ban antibiotics that are needed to treat human illnesses but used in animals to promote growth. If mankind were not breeding animals for human consumption and for their milk and eggs then we would not be in our present predicament.
Are we going to survive this real threat? Maybe! Every year there are more strains of bacteria that are resistant to all antibiotics. A great deal of the problem results from human misuse of antibiotics but, as many animal rights people have speculated for years, it also lies with their use in animals. When an animal is subsequently eaten, or its milk or eggs are consumed, the antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria may be transferred to humans and other animals.
The scientific evidence is in. We were right. Now for the solution:
Convince the public to cut down on its consumption of animal products and to stop the exploitation of the so-called "farm" animals. Going vegan is even a better solution. I believe that veganism is the real answer.
(c) 1999 by David A. Weseloh, Ph.D.
Insert date: 2009-05-16 Last update: 2009-05-16