When the drugs don’t work: Antibiotics in farming and medicine

Remember penicillin? If you’re old enough to remember that, you’re not young. The days are long gone when that wonder drug could cure diseases. Because bacteria are clever. Hit them with a chemical cosh and they evolve to resist it.

New antibiotics get invented in labs. But scientists are not magicians. After a while, there aren’t so many new antibiotics that can be invented. It doesn’t help that universities, where so much science goes on, are strapped for cash in these hard economic times.

So resistance to antibiotics is a growing problem. It’s about misuse in human medicine and it’s about misuse in farming. Many livestock diets routinely include antibiotics because they make the animals stay healthier and grow faster.

Here’s what The Pig Site says about farming’s impact on antibiotic resistance. I like the overall conclusion there: reduce stocking densities, then your animals won’t get so many infections. That does mean we’ll need to pay more for our meat. Which is more important? Cheap bacon sandwiches, or drugs that work? I know which I prefer. Anyway, when I eat bacon I want to know that the pig lived a decent life.

Jeanette Longfield at Sustain tells us about the worldwide Alliance to Save our Antibiotics. My fellow blogger Eideard tells us about antibiotics and the quality of meat in North America.


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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4 Responses to When the drugs don’t work: Antibiotics in farming and medicine

  1. EqFe says:

    Just a huge problem here because anibiodics are included in daily food rations (mainly GMO corn) on feedlots

  2. Pingback: Misuse of antibiotics and ‘factory farming’ of animals: Alarm bells sound | Science on the Land

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