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This article is from the In-Depth Report The Crisis of Antibiotic Resistance
60-Second Science

Animal Production Practices Create Antibiotic Resistance

Microbiologist Lance Price at the ScienceWriters2011 conference in Flagstaff on October 16 explained that modern animal production methods are virtually designed to create antibiotic resistant bacteria. Steve Mirsky reports

“We produce nine billion food animals in the United States every year. And most of these animals are fed antibiotics throughout their life. And it’s the single greatest use of antibiotics in the United States.” Lance Price, director of the TGen North Center for Microbiomics and Human Health in Flagstaff, at the ScienceWriters2011 conference on October 16th.

“And then this is the thing that just drives public health people crazy: most antibiotics are fed to healthy animals to promote growth or to prevent diseases that may be just occurring because of the way we’re raising them. Overcrowding and unsanitary conditions—we call them production diseases. And so we’re using these lifesaving drugs as production tools. It’s pretty amazing.

“So most animals are raised in concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAPOs. I could not honestly engineer a better system for creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria than to introduce antibiotics to this setting. And that’s exactly what we do every day in the United States. If we all recognize that antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to public health that we face today, we have to do something about this.”

—Steve Mirsky

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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