The idea behind using antibiotics on animals is that if the animal remain disease free, they can put more of their energy into producing milk, or gaining weight, for human consumption, rather than fighting disease. However, this abuse of antibiotics does not come without consequences. Such antibiotic use is necessitated on factory farms due to the overcrowded conditions.
Antibiotic-resistance bacteria is a scary thing…and it’s a real threat. Surely you’ve heard of the superbugs that are resistance to most of our antibiotics. Antibiotic use on livestock plays a part in this resistance.
Natural selection in bacteria
Bacteria multiply quickly. Since they multiply so quickly, natural selection can run its course rapidly compared to animals or other organisms. If constantly exposed to antibiotics, naturally, some bacterial will be more resistant to it than other due to genetic variations. The bacteria that are not resistant die and the more resistant bacteria flourish.
So when antibiotics are used constantly on something as widespread as livestock, it can wreck havoc on our control over bacteria.
Organic farms can help
In a new study, antibiotic-resistant bacteria were less common on farms that observed organic farming practicescompared to conventional farms. The results are published in the journal of Environmental Health Perspectives.
The researchers compared five farms that had recently switched to organic farming practices that were producing their first flock of certified organic chickens to five farms using conventional farming practices. The convention farms added up to six different antibiotics to the chicken feed.
The bedding, litter, feed and water were tested for bacteria. While all of the farms had the same strains of bacteria, antibiotic-resistant bacteria were less common in samples from the organic farms.
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Source: Environmental Health News