Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Massive Use of Antibiotics in Animals Making Meat Unsafe

Meat on the table


The widespread practice of pumping livestock with antibiotics to boost their quality is leading to the creation of more strains of antibiotic resistant superbugs endangering humans.

The practice, which is prevalent in developing countries, is dramatically increasing the risk of creating more drug-resistant "super bugs," scientists warned. Choosing to remain on this path might result in a time when ordinary infections could become a death sentence because they'll no longer respond to antibiotics.

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Bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella are already becoming resistant to antibiotics, said study co-author Tim Robinson, a scientist with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

He noted that livestock producers rely on antibiotics to keep their animals healthy but the systematic use of low doses on livestock is creating "perfect conditions to grow resistant bacteria," Robinson said.

"Poor livestock producers aren't responsible for this problem, it's the big firms rushing to meet demand in the growing cities".

A Princeton University study discovered that antibiotic use in animals is expected to jump by two thirds worldwide between 2010 and 2030. The use of antibiotics is also expected to double in China, Brazil, India and Russia.

China's livestock industry is expected to account for one third of the world's antibiotics. The five countries with the largest projected increases in antibiotics consumption are Myanmar (205 percent), Nigeria (163 percent), Peru (160 percent) and Vietnam (157 percent).

The study by experts from Princeton, ILRI and the National Institutes of Health is the first to measure global antibiotic consumption by livestock.

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