Bacteria are everywhere. They can live in almost every environment and have managed to adapt to almost all living conditions. One of those adaptations is bacteria developing antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance in humans has been shown to be caused due to the over exposure of antibiotics given to animals when not needed (2). Animal feed companies over-expose antibiotics in food animals which can then transport antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria to humans through consuming or direct contact with the animal (4). Food animals such as cattle, poultry, and pigs are the primary sources of this problem. Antibiotics are put in the feed of animals as growth promoters. Animals being exposed to the growth promoters cause the disease causing bacteria to become resistant to these antibiotics. Then when humans eat these animals the antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria infect them as well. Humans can also become infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria through direct contact with these animals.
“In 1985, Swedish Parliament passed the Feedingstuffs Act and banned the use of antibiotics for growth promotion. Calves, turkeys and fattening pigs did not appear to be affected significantly by the ban: growth rates may have decreased slightly, but there were no major increases in mortality. Efforts were made to establish new feeds and housing for broiler chickens and, after an initial "unsettled" period of outbreaks of necrotic enteritis, were considered successful (3).”
“Athens, Georgia has implemented a DNA chip system. This chip allows scientists to monitor which bacteria are becoming resistant to certain drugs. Scientists can then stop the use of that antibiotic in animals. The chips are helping to prevent the development and transportation of antibiotic resistant bacteria (1).”
Our policy is to slowly decrease the usage of antibiotics in food given to cattle, poultry, and pigs until eventually all antibiotic growth promoters are out of the food completely. We hope to completely stop the use of antibiotic growth promoters in feed in the next five years. A 20% decrease of these antibiotics is expected yearly. With this slow decrease of the amount of antibiotic growth promoters in the animal feed we should not see a significant affect of mortality or decreased growth. However to keep feeding the number of people in the United States over time we would need to produce approximately 452 million more chickens, 23 million more cattle, and 12 million more pigs. This in most cases is not a bad situation due to the fact that it offers more jobs to people and keeps the small farmers alive. USDA will provide grants to small farmers willing to join the program and supply more feed animals to the United States. In order to enforce this policy and keep your grant the USDA will be doing random farm checks. These checks will consist of examining the feed, and following the standards of living conditions for these animals. The USDA will also be doing random checks of feed companies to ensure the right amount of antibiotic growth promoters is added to the food. After five years these random checks will continue to ensure that there are no antibiotic growth promoters reintroduced to the feed. Upon the first offense the company will receive a fine of 15% of their total yearly income. On the second offense the company will receive a fine of 30% of their total yearly income. For a third offense the companies head staff will be removed and replaced by qualified people willing to follow the program. Also the USDA will be inspecting the company more frequently to ensure that rules are being followed. Every year that a company follows the program and does not have any violations they will be rewarded with an extra 10% of their yearly income.
During this five year program the USDA will be researching new additives for feed that will promote growth in feed animals as effectively as the antibiotic growth promoters have without the added affect of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Our hopes are to promote growth in animals while reducing antibiotic resistance in animals as well as humans, therefore making the United States a healthier country for all.
“Many of the bacteria in food that cause disease are found in the intestinal tracts of animals or people. Use of antibiotics in food animals and people can select for resistant strains that end up in the food supply (5).” The reduction of antibiotic use in livestock feed is going to take time and effort from all farmers and feed companies. Through this time and effort will come many benefits to animals and the human race. Hopefully in the next five years antibiotic resistance will reduce dramatically and new additives for growth promoters will be invented. Removing antibiotics from livestock feed is the first step in preserving human antibiotics.
1. Durham, S. (2005). DNA Chips Help Spot and Track Antibiotic Resistance. Agricultural Research Magazine , 1.
2. Florini, K., Denison, R., Stiffler, T., Fitzgerald, T., & Goldburg, R. (2005). Resistant Bugs and Antibiotic Drugs. 1-48.
3. Harken, T. T. (1999). The Agricultural Use of Antibiotics and its Implications of Human Health. United States General Accounting Office , 1-33.
4. Hughes, P., & Heritage, J. (2006). Antibiotic Growth-Promoters in Food Animals. 1.
5. Prevention, C. f. (2005). Antibiotic Resistance 101. Get Smart on the Farm , 1.