Antibiotics In The Production Of Food Animals

3029 words - 13 pages

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SwaderDeVry UniversityEnglish 135 Professor Hanson12/5/2011

Antibiotics in the Production of Food Animals
The use of antibiotics in the production of food animals has caused some controversy of late. Antibiotics have been used in food animal production in the U.S. and other countries for more than 50 years (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, n.d). Antibiotics are used in agricultural applications not only therapeutically to treat illnesses and infections, but also as a non-therapeutic growth agent. This use as a growth agent has been a boon to the meat producers and consumers of the world. It has allowed for quicker weight gain and thus shortened time from birth to slaughter. This increases production and lowers prices to consumers. So, why all the controversy now. It is this non-therapeutic use or use for something other than treating illness or disease that has spawned most of the controversy around their overuse and raised calls that antibiotics be banned in agricultural use for anything except the treatment of illness or disease. Although antibiotics have contributed to an increase in production and the lowering of cost of industrially produced meat there is also a serious downside. According to FDA estimates fully “80% of the antibiotics produced in the U.S. are for agricultural use. Four times the amount used to treat human illnesses” (Union, 2011). The use of antibiotics in the production of food animals is a looming danger to the world as a whole.
The danger lies in the risk of more and more antibiotic resistant bacterial infections due to the overuse of antibiotics. In a recent speech the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan said “indiscriminate use of antibiotics has made bacterial infections increasingly resistant, with fewer and fewer antibiotics available to fight them. The world is heading towards a post antibiotic era, in which many common infections will no longer have a cure and once again, kill unabated” (Newton, 2011). Dr. Chan pointed specifically to the overuse of antibiotics in the food industry and the fact that drugs that are used to treat humans are also being used on food animals. This allows the bugs in animals to build up resistance to those drugs commonly used in the treatment of humans and that resistance to drugs in animals can be easily transmitted to humans. Most people are aware of superbugs like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), but Dr. Chan also noted that “In the past year, nearly half a million people developed multidrug resistant TB, and a third of them died as a result.” (Newton, 2011) Mark Jones of Wellington Hospital said “the warning was not an overstatement, and antibiotics would be useless “in a relatively short time”, both in developing countries and developed countries. We’re going to have to advance to the stage where we die from infections – we’ve got to be prepared for those days to return (Newton, 20ll). The continued...

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