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Animal Farm Angst

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Livestock factories commonly treat pigs, cattle and chicken with antibiotics to prevent animal disease and promote growth

Livestock factories commonly treat pigs, cattle and chicken with antibiotics to prevent animal disease and promote growth. About half of the antibiotics produced in the US are used in the raising of animals for human consumption.

The result of such overuse is a growing human health hazard: antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can cause deadly diseases. In May of 1999, a report by the Minnesota Health Department found that human infections by antibiotic-resistant germs increased almost eightfold between 1992 and 1997.

The Institute of Medicine, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, first reported this problem back in 1989.

Just 10 years later, in 1999, the US Food and Drug Administration announced its plan to start regulating the use of antibiotics in livestock factories. One can only speculate whether their tardy attempt to create guidelines came in response to a 1998 New England Journal of Medicine study which noted that a strain of salmonella bacteria had emerged that was resistant to five different antibiotics!

Source: Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly, March 9, 2000.

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