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Agriculture Investment

  • The greatly excessive use of antibiotics in food production in recent decades has made many bacteria more resistant to antibiotics. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has estimated that antibiotic use in animal husbandry, poultry farming and aquaculture in the US is over four times USDA recommended levels. Meanwhile, the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has estimated that 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the USA are used on animals.

    Cheap antibiotics prone to abuse

    Antibiotics are used to ensure better health and survival of animals bred for food, but they are also believed by many farmers to promote growth. As prices of antibiotics remain attractively low, they offer the prospect of higher earnings from greater output at low cost. Hence, there is little or no market incentive to reduce excessive, if not indiscriminate use, and hence the abuse of antibiotics. Thus, such efforts to increase farmer incomes and profitability exacerbate the likelihood and risk of antibiotic resistance.

    The widespread use of antibiotics through food chains is thus becoming catastrophic. A review by the FAO explains how antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals are infecting humans, through direct contact with animals or indirect transmission through the food we eat. Earlier, the spread of bacteria was popularly associated with international travel, but the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in our food is now proving to be far more formidable.

    'Recycling' antibiotics

    Ecologically minded activists have long been promoting agricultural recycling, often citing traditional agricultural practices. But adding antibiotics to animal feed has made this a threat to public health. The feed typically contains many drugs, including some only used by humans as antibiotics of last resort.

  • Last week, a federal judge in California denied poultry producer Sanderson Farms’s request to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the company of using false and misleading advertising to market its line of “100% natural” chicken products—a tagline that appears on a range of offerings from wings and drumsticks to thighs and whole birds, as well as on the company’s website, print ads, billboards, and TV commercials.

  • McDonald's announced recently that it aims to lessen the use of medically important antibiotics in the cattle supplying its beef. Hurrah for that press release, but farmers and ranchers have an important response for one of their premier vendors: It's already happening in a big way. Just ask the Food and Drug Administration.

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