Countries still using antibiotics to fatten animals despite ban

Anne Gulland
13 February 2019


Whereas some countries like those part of the European Union and the United States have banned the use of antibiotics in farming practices as a means to optimizing animal growth, several other countries are ignoring the imminent threat of antibiotic resistance. Strangely enough, the American based company, Zoetis, is selling their antibiotics to farmers in India, which still has not banned the use of these drugs in their cultivations yet. Moreover, The Telegraph reports that some countries are using bacitracin, antibiotic option that the World Health Organization designates as an emergency last-resort option when all else fails. With other countries refusing to recognize the dangers of antibiotic resistance, the post-Antibiotic era could be sooner than we think.

This article is most relevant to microbial evolution and speciation as discussed in class. We’ve discussed how microbes can evolve from different factors of the environment compelling them to do so, it just so happens that it’s a lot more prevalent in the biomes of livestock with the use of antibiotics. These new species of bacteria which are beginning to emerge have no known cure.’¨Another connection is to antibiotics. Penicillin attacks bacteria’s cells by breaking the 1-4 petal linkages in a bacterium’s cell wall causing lysis during replication. With some bacteria now resistant to penicillin, some might also develop resistance to other antibiotic therapies as well.

Critical Analysis:
I’m very interested in the growing trend of antibiotic resistance. Aside from it posting a health hazard to some exposed to superbug strains, it might lead to the next global pandemic. Another plague, if you would, this time with no known cure.
On the contrary, antibiotic resistance might not be as much of a microbial issue as it is an ecological issue. Perhaps the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria is nature’s way to counter Earth’s ever growing population. As human beings, we often forget that we can’t control all things that happen on this planet. Moreover, I might also suggest that a post-antibiotic era might spark the test to see who the real keystone species on planet Earth is. Another plague might be nature’s occasional reminder that it can’t be contained in a laboratory setting. Sure this particular article is concerned with cattle, however, diseases can cross between species just like Avian flu and Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

As for the article, I think that farmers need to look beyond maximizing their profits and livestock yields and understand the threats that arise to both their produce and their communities with the sporadic abuse of antibiotics. The problem getting in the way of that happening, like a lot of advancement in science, is money and politics. Ironically, US-based companies like the ones mentioned in this article are only exacerbating the danger that stares humanity in the face.

What are some alternatives to antibiotics that farmers can use to ensure their livestock grows healthily that is both safe for them and humans?

1 Comment for “Countries still using antibiotics to fatten animals despite ban”



This is a very interesting article on the alternatives to antibiotic usage in livestock. While there is research using bacteriophages for bacterial infections, there are some safety concerns and fear of long term consequences. Research using probiotics, prebiotics, or a combination of both is being done, but they are not helpful in killing bacteria, mostly just in trying to keep the animals healthy in the first place. Plant extracts are being looked at, but this is a complex process and would be costly, time consuming, and hard to regulate. Mostly what the study found was that in the countries where antibiotic usage has been banned the farmers have been forced to improve the living conditions and quality of life for the animals they are raising- which is probably the best way to prevent infection and disease anyway.

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