NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — We have been told that the overuse of antibiotic is leading to drug resistant super-bugs, but the vast majority of antibiotics produced in the United States are not given to humans, but to the livestock that we eat.
Xenia Stavrinides raises about 400 animals at Rainbow Ranch Farms, a world away from the industrial plants that raise most of the nation’s livestock.
“Here we don’t use antibiotics. We don’t use medications. The animals are all free range, outdoors,” Stavrinides told CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez.
At most of the biggest farms, the conditions are so crowded and animals are routinely fed antibiotics to prevent disease and promote growth. Doctors are increasingly concerned that overuse is making those medications less effective on humans.
A recent survey found 85 percent have diagnosed one or more patients with a drug resistant bacterial infection in the past year.
Poultry producers have been using antibiotics since the 1940s, but the National Chicken Council said the majority are never used in human medicine and do not represent a threat of creating resistance in humans.
Physicians and scientists have pointed out that overuse of any antibiotic still breeds drug-resistant super bugs that can infect humans.
Representative Louise Slaughter (D) – New York, the only microbiologist in Congress, has been fighting to limit the practice for more than a decade.
“I cannot get over the astonishment and anger that one of the best medical breakthroughs in the history of the world has been frittered away with such careless use,” Rep. Slaughter said.
Surprisingly, most of the antibiotics given to animals are not to treat infections, but to stimulate faster growth in livestock.
So taking antibiotics away for this use would make meat more expensive, but public health experts say that’s a small price to pay to keep from breeding drug-resistant germs.
Rep. Slaughter said consumers can help with their wallets by buying only antibiotic-free meat.
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