Fueling the planet with antibiotics
World Health Organization says, “Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.”
Why did we start using antibiotics?
The discovery of antibiotics and their immense capabilities to combat and destroy bacteria and infection was one of the most significant advancements in human history.
Even in the presence of this high efficacy of medicines’ great discoveries, we are threatening the folds of past work done in the health industry and mortally jeopardizing people's health. Our hard work addresses major treatments like surgeries, organ transplants, cancer therapy, maternal surgeries, and more can be reversed due to irregular use of antibiotics in the farming industry. Superbugs/AMR can make medicines less effective right when pandemics put health systems under extreme pressure.
Do you know 75% of all total antibiotics are being used in farming globally?
According to the State of the World’s Antibiotics 2021 report, the estimated total use of antimicrobials in animals in 2020 in India was 2,160.02 tonnes, which is expected to reach 2,236.74 tonnes by 2030. The enormous increase in the demand for animal protein has rapidly increased the use of antimicrobials in the animal health sector, where these drugs are used to treat and prevent infections and promote rapid growth. In India, the resistance rate against common antibiotics such as ampicillin among chicken has been as high as 69.7%. The resistance rate against antibiotic treatment for E.Coli and Salmonella has been 16.5%. Some studies prove the horizontal transfer of resistance through foodborne Bacteria- E.coli, salmonella and campylobacter.
Chickens are the most abused animal, with around 23.7 billion raised for meat and eggs in 2018 and are therefore the heaviest consumers of antibiotics in the world.
Why are chickens propped with antibiotics?
- The primary reason for antibiotic use is to keep animals healthy and to prevent them from diseases.
- To encourage weight gain and growth promotion after a scientist discovered that chickens fed with B12 grown from antibiotic residue grew 50% faster than other chickens. The use of growth promoters is becoming regulated and is prohibited in the EU, the U.S and the U.K. However, much of the world continues to pursue these techniques.
Crammed chickens in stressful conditions create enormous heat stress, and these conditions are excellent breeding grounds for bacteria like E.coli and salmonella, which can be deadly without the help of antibiotics. They are more susceptible to catching a disease in this environment due to their suppressed immune systems. While naturally, chickens enjoy wandering on free ground, pecking at faeces which builds up their antibodies and strengthen their immune systems.
Do you know that high welfare can help reduce antibiotic usage in farm animals and help humans keep our hard work on treatments intact?
Excessive use of antibiotics
Antibiotic excessive use is there because we use them as a Substitute for infection prevention and control rather than a complement to improving sanitation and good veterinary practices. Intensive farming promotes the use of more antibiotics. Simultaneously, the High welfare of farm animals can be a great push to regulate/reduce the use of antibiotics in the farming industry due to increased immunity and hence resilience to diseases.
Research studies from WHO suggests that at the current rate antibiotic resistance is developing this would manifest itself globally into 10 million yearly deaths from infection and disease, surpassing cancer as the number one global killer, and the economic devastation wrought by ensuing health conditions would force 24 million people into extreme poverty.
Does this all end here?
This doesn’t end here. Our doctors and Veterinarians are doing lifesaving work for a sustainable and healthy future. Their hard work should not go in vain, and we should be able to save our people and animals from various types of diseases and cruelty by adopting high welfare, less use of antibiotics and hence, reducing the chance of AMR turning into a pandemic.
The Link Between Antibiotic Resistance and Factory Farming (sentientmedia.org)
The State of the World's Antibiotics Report in 2021 - Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP)