According to the new report “Bugs in the System” by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, every year, about 29 million pounds of antibiotics are sold for use in animal agriculture. That’s over four times as much as the total amount of antibiotics sold to humans every year.
Besides that jaw-dropping number, it’s also very disconcerting knowing those 29 million pounds of antibiotics aren’t held to the same FDA standards as drugs given to humans, thus allowing producers to use as much as they want on their livestock and poultry feed.
Most of the antibiotics used are for growth purposes rather than to treat some illness, thus making the use almost entirely unnecessary. While the FDA has called for the industry to self-regulate the use of antibiotics, the industry has shown absolutely no signs of stopping this irresponsible practice.
The report also highlights another interesting trend: The use of antibiotics in the corn ethanol industry.
The report indicates food safety and health officials first noticed this trend about three years ago. Many ethanol producers apparently routinely add penicillin, erythromycin, virginiamycin and tylosin to the tanks where the corn is gradually turned into ethanol. These antibiotics keep natural bacteria outbreaks from occurring and give producers a much larger yield. The leftover solids after the ethanol is extracted are then given to farm animals as feed, which we in turn ingest through meats (if you happen to eat meat, that is).
The problem with the use of all these antibiotics, besides being used far too liberally and with no regulation, is that it can ultimately be harmful to you.
It doesn’t take a degree in biology to understand that the overuse of antibiotics can help foster the creation of stronger bacteria that could wreak havoc. There are effective and cost-competitive antimicrobial alternatives to antibiotics that the industry could turn to instead.
To see the full report, click here.