Did you know that 80% of the antibiotics made are used in livestock feed? Conventional feedlot animals are given antibiotics every day of their lives, primarily to enhance growth. This encourages the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This misguided practice has created a global threat to human health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking comments on the use of antibiotics in livestock. Will you please comment today?
We need bacteria
I have written a lot about bacteria and the benefits of a healthy balance of bacteria, yeast and viruses in the human gut. Without bacteria we could not digest food, make vitamins, have immune support and benefit from the multitude of other functions that they serve.
Well, the same goes for livestock. All mammals have a natural coexistence with bacteria. It is when this balance of nature is upset that trouble occurs and that trouble crosses over to humans.
Super bugs that affect humans are bred in factory farms
Under the current system of factory farming, livestock are crowded together in terrible living conditions and are essentially prisoners of modern commerce. It is so inhumane.
We have known that bacteria are bred into super bugs through the use of antibiotics in animal feed. Feeding livestock antibiotics is practiced by the food industry in order to promote growth and increase revenue.
Back in 1976, Professor Stuart Levy published his research in the NEJM about this problem. He found that the humans who were in contact with chickens that had been fed antibiotics, had resistant bacteria in their stool samples.
FDA under fire
In May of this year, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen, and the Union of Concerned Scientists joined together and filed a lawsuit against the FDA. These groups are petitioning the agency to withdraw its approval for most non-therapeutic uses of penicillin and tetracycline in animal feed.
According to Margaret Mellon, director of the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists,
We’ve been fighting the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock for more than 30 years… And over those decades the problem has steadily worsened. We hope this lawsuit will finally compel the FDA to act with an urgency commensurate with the magnitude of the problem.
The problem is that bacteria have an amazing capacity to mutate in order to survive. So even very small amounts of a substance will trigger mutation and resistance to the drug.
Support your local farms
The best solution is to support local farmers who are engaging in biodynamic polyculture farms that would never use drugs like antibiotics, because their animals are living the life they are supposed to live and eating the things they are supposed to eat. These humane and ethical local farms that can provide safe, clean, real food are our hope for the future.
Read more about the Food Safety Consequences of Factory Farms at Food & Water Watch.