Chinese Farms Breed Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

In 2011, human consumption of antibiotics in China was ten times the global average. Because overuse of the drugs can give rise to resistance in the bacteria they target, the Health Ministry has repeatedly promised to cut down on unnecessary use. Overconsumption among humans is not the only problem, however. Among the various side effects of China’s surging meat consumption is the large-scale adoption of American-style intensive farming techniques, including routine preventative dosing of animals. A paper published last week by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Science and Michigan State University documents the consequent proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria at three large pig farms around China. From Maryn McKenna at Wired: If you’ve followed news about food in China (at this blog or elsewhere), you’ll have seen that regulation of food safety is failing under the twin pressures of needing to produce a lot of protein and wanting to make a lot of money. (I think of food in China as being where the United States was before Upton Sinclair came along.) This lack of regulation is as true for agricultural antibiotic use as it is for other aspects of food production. China is both the largest producer and the largest consumer of antibiotics in the world, and it is putting almost half of its annual production into agriculture: about 96 million kilograms, which by my math (using the newest ADUFA numbers in my last post) works out to about 7 times what the US is using each year. […] To quote from the paper: “The diverse set of resistance genes detected potentially confer resistance to all major classes of antibiotics, including antibiotics critically important for human medicine.” […] Their summation: The diversity and abundance of (antibiotic resistance genes) reported in this study is alarming and clearly indicates that unmonitored ...
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