Antibiotic Use in Farming to Climb Amid Fears of Drug-Resistance

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The Facts

  • A study published in PLOS Global Public Health 3 has found that the use of antibiotics in animal farming is forecast to climb 8% between 2020 and 2030. Overuse of antibiotics in animals is believed to cause an increase in antibiotic resistance in humans, in turn causing a rise in untreatable bacterial infections.

  • The study predicted that, by the end of the decade, more than 107K tons of antimicrobial drugs will be used to prevent or treat fungal, bacterial, viral, and parasitical infections in farm animals.

The Spin

Pro-establishment narrative

While a range of factors have led to antibiotic drug resistance in humans, the FDA has stepped up to curb the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals specifically. The American Society of Microbiology applauds these safeguards as an initial step in the fight. There will always be more work to be done, and there will always be critics of the government's actions, but change always has to start somewhere and progress is being made.

Establishment-critical narrative

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has known for decades that the methods of the meat industry create problems for Americans. It wasn't until the 2010s that the FDA tried to get a handle on the problem by requiring prescriptions for antibiotics — a step that European agencies had approved decades earlier. Public health experts are right to demand the FDA be more aggressive in the fight against this dangerous overuse if we are to see a reduction in untreatable infections that put people's lives at risk.

Nerd narrative

There is a 50% chance that at least 70,000 will die annually in the US as a result of antibiotic-resistant infections before 2026, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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