The Gillings Sustainable Agriculture Project: A Gillings Innovative Laboratory

North Carolina ranks number one state for use of antibiotics in livestock feed
March 11, 2010, 12:35 am
Filed under: Food, Health, Media | Tags: , , ,

I’ve been busy this week with Gillings Sustainable Agriculture project work and with my other very part-time job, gardening at a local elementary school with kids. I thought we’d never be able to plant with all the erratic weather we’ve been having, but finally the seeds are in the ground! Now the fun tasks of weeding and watering will be filling my early evenings and weekends. As we head into the spring, I’ll be working with the kids in the garden more, and will keep you posted on all that I learn. So no post on research this week, but I wanted to share a very alarming story in which North Carolina unfortunately played a role.

On Monday, a friend emailed me an article in The New York Times about the growing resistance to antibiotics. The first few paragraphs summarized an issue I had heard about before – doctors have recognized an increasing number of superbugs that are impervious to antibiotics and researchers have linked this resistance to modern agribusiness’ overuse of antibiotics to feed healthy livestock. But when I got to the middle of the story and read this paragraph, I was shocked.

“More antibiotics are fed to livestock in North Carolina alone than are given to humans in the entire United States, according to the peer-reviewed Medical Clinics of North America.”

I did some research to find the study he was referring to, and after some navigating tracked it down. This study on antimicrobial-resistant infections, cites another study to come up with this sad statistic for our state which is also shared by Iowa (they take second place).

The New York Times article also cited that the feeding of antibiotics to healthy animals now comprises 70% of total antibiotic use, compared to 16% of use to treat humans and their pets. Agribusiness argues that the agricultural use of antibiotics produces cheaper meat, but at what cost to public health?? There is some good news – with the growing public interest in where food is coming from, it seems as if the issue is getting more media attention. Below, view part one of Katie Couric’s CBS Evening News report on antibiotic use in livestock.



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