Antibiotics, the wonder drugs of the 20th century, are loosing their oomph—and fast. A new report commissioned by the UK government estimates that drug-resistant superbugs, or what it calls antimicrobrial resistance (AMR), kill 700,000 people each year. By 2050 the number of deaths could swell to 10 million, with annual costs of $8 trillion (yes, that's a t). “Any use of antimicrobials,” the report says, “contributes to the development of resistance, but widespread unnecessary and excessive use makes it worse.” And that means you, Big Ag.
A whopping 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States are administered to farm animals to fatten them up or keep them from getting sick in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. Although the report doesn’t explicitly point the finger at the livestock industry, the link between modern farming practices and drug-resistance is well-documented. So listen up, farmers: We think, and the Centers for Disease Control agrees, that it’s time for you to confront your drug problem. After all, you’re only hurting yourself.
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