The Animal Welfare Movement Have Been Saying It For Many Years, But Does Anyone Listen Or Act ? – Maybe Now When ‘Important Officials’ Get Sick, They Will !

chicken antibiotics india

Above – Employees give a vaccination shot to a chicken at an hatchery in Mangaon, south of Mumbai, India. (Photo: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Mar 30, 2016

Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.


The problem with antibiotic use in agriculture is pretty clear: The overuse of drugs in raising livestock is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections—and that’s led high-ranking officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to declare the end of antibiotics.

But with nearly all of the major domestic poultry suppliers working toward an antibiotic-free future, and everyone from public health organizations to the president talking about the risks of overusing drugs in livestock production, we finally seem to be having grown-up conversations about antibiotic resistance in the U.S.

Drug-resistant bacterial diseases have little concern for international borders, however, and as the growing global middle-class demands more and more meat, rising production is leading to rising antibiotic use around the world. According to one study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, antibiotic use is expected to double in Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa, and India thanks to an increased appetite for meat.

In India, where about a third of the population is vegetarian and the majority of those who do eat meat do not consume beef, chicken is often the animal protein of choice. Consumption has increased 14-fold since 1985, according to Bloomberg, which revealed in a story published Tuesday that the rising demand has led to very concerning uses of antibiotics by Indian poultry companies. The story—headlined “Antibiotic Apocalypse Fear Stoked by India’s Drugged Chickens”—reports that five antibiotics regularly used in human medicine, including two the World Health Organization deemed “critically important,” are routinely given to broiler chickens at the behest of poultry companies.

The story’s claims that antibiotics used in human medicine are given to chickens are refuted by the SR Group, which contracts with the farmers who were interviewed for the story.

“Nobody uses antibiotics unnecessarily because we are professionals,” Ravinder Reddy, the technical director of SR Group, told Bloomberg. “We are not illiterate farmers. We know what we are doing.”

But with chicks receiving a variety of antibiotics starting shortly after they hatch, this kind of heavily medicated poultry production is likely contributing to the rising problem of drug resistance observed in India and elsewhere around the world. According to a 2015 study that tracked resistance around the globe, three separate classes of antibiotics are now only 20 percent effective when used to treat a number of E. coli strains.

As World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan told Bloomberg,

The world is on the brink of losing its miracle cures.”



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