Should farms stop using antibiotics on livestock? | The Tylt

Should farms stop using antibiotics on livestock?

Farms feed antibiotics to livestock on a mass scale in order to prevent illnesses stemming from poor conditions and to help increase growth rates. Farms say antibiotics are a necessary part of modern farming—there's no way to supply the huge amounts of meat Americans demand. Health officials say this practice is slowly making antibiotics useless. The widespread use of antibiotics in farms is driving resistance and could spell disaster for the world. What do you think?

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Should farms stop using antibiotics on livestock?
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Health officials say there's no reason farms have to constantly feed antibiotics to livestock. Farms first started using antibiotics after researchers found the drugs rapidly sped up growth in livestock. With the rise of industrial farming, antibiotics found another use—preventing illnesses and disease that would come from keeping animals in factory farm settings. This widespread use is threatening to make antibiotics completely ineffective.

Unsurprisingly, the industry's appetite for antibiotics has remained voracious. According to the FDA's latest figures, antibiotic use on US farms surged 23 percent between 2009 and 2014, even as overall US meat production leveled off. In 2014, livestock operations used 20 million pounds of antibiotics important to humans—while doctors used about 7 million pounds.

The FDA recently released new rules which bar the use of antibiotics for growth, but activists worry the new regulations come with too many loopholes. When the EU banned antibiotics, studies found levels didn't actually drop. It turns out farmers reclassified their use of antibiotics as preventive care and did not have to make any changes. Barring antibiotics for growth doesn't do nearly enough to stop the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

How much preventive use of antibiotics will occur in the U.S. after the FDA ban is hard to predict. One-third of the drugs listed for preventive use are sold with no limits on how long they can be used, meaning they could be given throughout an animal’s life, defeating the new rules. The FDA is currently collecting public comment on whether restrictions should be tightened.
“Preventive use needs limits,” said Avinash Kar, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which previously sued the FDA to force changes in its antibiotics rules. “There may be limited instances where prevention might be appropriate, but they need to identify what those are, and not allow routine broad-scale use.”
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Farmers say antibiotics play an important role in the production of meat for consumption. It's true some farms take the use of antibiotics too far and contribute to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria. That's bad for everyone—farmers included. However, eliminating the use of antibiotics in livestock altogether is impossible. Antibiotics are a necessary part of industrial farming.

Consumers like to eat a lot of meat and they want it at low prices. Farmers only have so many options when they're placed under pressure from retailers and consumers to drive down prices while ramping up production. Factory farms pack animals closely together to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Without antibiotics, the way we currently make food won't work.

Scott Hurd, a veterinarian at Iowa State University says concerns over antibiotic resistant bacteria at farms are overblown. The chain of events necessary to make it a problem are exceedingly rare. Antibiotic use in livestock should be regulated, but not banned altogether.

First of all, bacteria have to become resistant to an antibiotic that's actually used to treat people. But, in fact, around three-quarters of the antibiotics that farmers use on animals are not used at all by humans or are used infrequently, such as tetracyclines or virginiamycin. So only a small portion of farm use could create bacteria that are resistant to drugs that you'll use.
"And then you've got to get those bacteria off the farm. And then someone has to get sick with those bacteria," he continues. This also shouldn't happen very often, he says, if people are careful about cooking and handling meat.
Finally, you have to get so sick from the contaminated meat that you need antibiotics. That doesn't happen very often, either. 
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FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Should farms stop using antibiotics on livestock?
A festive crown for the winner
#StopAntibioticAbuse
#NoDrugsNoMeat