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Advantage 1: Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

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Advantage 1: Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Advantage 1 is

CAFOs’ Over-reliance on AB in livestock feeds produces ABR bacteria

Lindwall 2019 - writer and editor in NRDC's Communications department
Courtney Lindwall July 31, 2019 “Industrial Agricultural Pollution 101”
Antibiotic resistance
The widespread use of antibiotics in meat production in animals that are not sick is contributing to the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. Two-thirds of antibiotics important to human medicine in the U.S. are sold for use in livestock, not people. The regular use of these drugs in the food and water of farm animals to (poorly) help them survive the often crowded, unsanitary, and stressful conditions on CAFOs contributes to the rise and proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These bacteria can then spread from CAFOs via air and water, including water used to irrigate crops, and can end up in animal waste used to fertilize crops. Contaminated meat and farmworkers’ clothing and shoes can also spread these antibiotic-resistant bacteria into our communities. Resistant bacteria can even “teach” other bacteria resistance, and this process can take place anywhere bacteria are found, including in our homes and guts. The exposure of workers and farm-adjacent communities is particularly high. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are among the gravest health threats we face today. It’s estimated that up to 162,000 people die per year in the United States as a result of antibiotic-resistant infections—that’s more people than are killed in all types of accidents, and more than double the annual deaths from opioid overdoses—making it the third-leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. And public health officials warn that the crisis will only get worse if we continue misusing and overusing these drugs.

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