Antibiotics and Growth Hormones Use in Animals
One of the biggest problems right now is antibiotics in animals. There’s huge outbreaks of things like MRSA, of bacterial infections we can’t control anymore. A majority of the antibiotics that are used, actually goes to animals instead of humans. In fact, 80% of all antibiotics (54,000 pounds) go to animals.
The main reason antibiotics are used in animals is to (1) promote muscle growth quickly, resulting in higher profits for the farming industry, (2) the animals are kept in horrible, cramped, dirty conditions and it is given to them to prevent sickness.
Today, 3-times more antibiotics go to chickens, pigs and cows that are not sick than to people who are, a practice that now ranks amongst the key culprits in the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as “superbugs.”
Drug-resistant infections are harder for doctors to treat, lead to longer illnesses, more hospital stays, and even death when treatments fail. They are also estimated to cost Americans up to $26 billion dollars per year in additional healthcare costs. Multi-drug resistant infections, such as the life-threatening disease MRSA, are on the rise while the development of new antibiotics is coming to a standstill.
Because antibiotics will kill off most of the bacteria, the drugs leave behind resistant individuals, which then reproduce more rapidly without competition from other bacteria. These bacteria then spread throughout the farm and/or spread to people who come into contact with the animals or the animal products. Antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella have already been found in animal products in the human food supply.
Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)
The faster an animal gets to slaughter weight or the more milk an animal produces, the more profitable the operation. Approximately two-thirds of all beef cattle in the US are given growth hormones, and approximately 22 percent of dairy cows are given hormones to increase milk production.
The European Union has banned the use of hormones in beef cattle, and has conducted a study that showed that hormone residues remain in the meat. Because of health concerns for both people and animals, Japan, Canada, Australia and the European Union have all banned the use of rBGH, but the hormone is still given to cows in the US. The EU has also banned the import of meat from animals treated with hormones, so the EU imports no beef from the US.
Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) causes cows to produce more milk, but its safety for both people and cows is questionable. Additionally, this synthetic hormone increases the incidence of mastitis, an infection of the udder, which causes the secretion of blood and pus into the milk.