Believing an antibiotic can cure severe infection or illness is taken for granted by most people. Unfortunately, there will come a day when this no longer holds true—unless we act quickly.
Over the past several years, experts have repeatedly sounded the alarm, warning us that the age of antibiotic drugs is coming to an end, as more strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to even our strongest antibiotics.
The implications of this are dire, as it would raise the stakes for a number of medical interventions.
Without antibiotics, it will be very difficult to care for premature babies and cancer patients, for example. Antibiotics are also necessary elements for performing organ transplants, surgeries, and emergency room medicine.
Indeed, we’re already seeing the effects. Hospital-acquired infections have skyrocketed, now affecting one in 25 patients, and many of these infections are drug resistant.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, two million American adults and children become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections.
Antibiotics in Agriculture Must Be Reduced to Solve This Problem
Use of antibiotics in healthy livestock account for about 80 percent of all antibiotic use in the US, so in order to halt the growth of antibiotic resistance, we really must address this source.
According to a 2009 report by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on this subject, factory farms used a whopping 29 million pounds of antibiotics that year alone.
Besides promoting growth in livestock, antibiotics are also used to compensate for the crowded, unsanitary living conditions associated with large-scale confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
Since the animals are routinely fed low doses of antibiotics, the bacteria become resistant far more easily than they do when you’re aggressively treating an active infection until all the bacteria are eradicated.
As a result of this agricultural practice, you end up ingesting these drug remnants through the animal products you consume. And, since you’re now getting very low doses of antibiotics through your food on a regular basis, the promotion of resistance continues in the human population as well.
Even vegetables may be contaminated with antibiotics if the farmer uses manure from treated cows as crop fertilizer… The only way to avoid it is to make sure you’re eating organically-raised, grass-fed or pastured meats and animal products, as organic standards do not permit hormones and antibiotics to be used in livestock for growth promotion purposes.