Farming and antibiotics overuse

As previously noted (see below), PBS News Hour has broadcast a series on the antibiotics crisis, that is, the appearance of more and more deadly drug-resistant germs and the lack of new antibiotics to deal with them. Here are the most recent two installments, on how rampant use of antibiotics in farming is a major problem.

If you don’t have time to watch, here’s the short version: Farmers raising chickens, pigs, and other animals use antibiotics in feed because doing so promotes rapid growth. Pharmaceutical companies happily sell the drugs to farmers, generally at a tiny fraction of what they sell the same drugs for use in human patients or even veterinary medicine.

Not surprisingly, this overuse promotes the development of disease pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics.

Some farmers, grocery stores, restaurant chains, and so on have started advertising that they don’t allow the use of antibiotics. As I pointed out in a post back in 2016, at least one irresponsible competitor has run ads attacking them, arguing there’s no reason to avoid antibiotics because they’re not present in meat anyway and falsely claiming that no-antibiotics claims are just a way of ripping-off consumers. Of course, that completely misses the point.



Other parts of this series:

  1. The antibiotic crisis is not getting any better
  2. The economics of new antibiotics
  3. Getting pharmaceutical companies to develop new antibiotics
  4. Farming and antibiotics overuse

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