Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Antibiotics fed to animals we eat

Most of us are wary that antibiotics are only to be taken when necessary, and if so, at the lowest effective dosage possible. Why do we exercise such caution when it comes to antibiotics? If taken in excess or unnecessarily, there is a possibility that the targeted bacterium will become resistant to the antibiotic, rendering the drug less or not at all effective.

According to Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, approximately 3 million pounds of antibiotics are given to humans each year for therapeutic reasons. Foer reports that "the UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists) calculated 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics were fed to chickens, pigs, and other farmed animals, only counting non-therapeutic uses." Even the industry's extremely conservative self-reported amount of 17.8 million pounds is staggeringly high--almost six times the amount consciously consumed by humans.

Why is this important? By unnecessarily pumping antibiotics into these animals, we are promoting the rates of antimicrobial resistance, something we are vigilant about preventing when it comes to our own health.

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