Antibiotic Resistance Is ‘the Biggest Threat to Modern Medicine’ – and Factory Farming Is One of the Main Culprits

Posted by on April 7, 2020 | Permalink

The United Nations has called the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs “the biggest threat to modern medicine”.

To tackle the threat, it’ll need to turn its attention to the industry that uses more antibiotics than any other: animal agriculture.

Pigs in crates

Globally, more antibiotics are prescribed to treat animals on farms than to treat humans. Intensive farms, where thousands of animals are kept together in cramped and often dirty conditions, fed unnatural diets, and subjected to intense stress, are a breeding ground for new bacteria and viruses. Practices such as separating baby animals from their mothers before their immune systems have fully developed make them even more vulnerable to disease. As a result, pigs, chickens, and cows are routinely pumped full of drugs to keep them just healthy enough to survive until they reach “slaughter weight”.

And the antibiotics given to animals on farms are often the same as, or very similar to, those used to fight disease in humans. For example, colistin – a “last resort” antibiotic in human medicine – is frequently used to mass-medicate pigs and poultry.

Packed chicken farm

Because of this, essential drugs are becoming less effective and drug-resistant strains of diseases, such as salmonella and MRSA, are emerging which can be transmitted from animals to humans. For example, one study of UK supermarket pork and chicken found that 51 per cent of samples were contaminated with antibiotic-resistant E coli bacteria.

The antibiotic-resistance crisis is predicted to kill one person every three seconds by 2050. England’s chief medical officer has called it “the greatest future threat to our civilisation”. This is a problem we can’t afford to ignore.

We need decisive action from world leaders to eradicate inhumane and dangerous factory farms and promote a shift to plant-based eating. This would also end the suffering of millions of animals and help to address climate change, too.

Do your part – reject factory farming and get started on a plant-based diet today!