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Antibiotics in meat on the rise worldwide, especially bacon

By Thor Benson Contact the Author   |   March 22, 2015 at 6:42 PM

WASHINGTON, March 22 (UPI) -- In the next 15 years, countries around the world will see a major increase in antibiotic use in livestock, a new study finds.

"The invention of antibiotics was a major public health revolution of the 20th century," said senior author Ramanan Laxminarayan, a senior research scholar at the Princeton Environmental Institute and director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy. "Their effectiveness -- and the lives of millions of people around the world -- are now in danger due to the increasing global problem of antibiotic resistance, which is being driven by antibiotic consumption."

The study was done by researchers at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, Princeton University, the International Livestock Research Institute and the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

The researchers found antibiotic use in livestock will likely rise 67 percent by 2030 if livestock conditions don't improve. About 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States go to livestock. Antibiotic resistance not only applies to the animals, but it can affect the humans eating the meat. The researchers found pig farmers producing pork and bacon use four times as many antibiotics as cattle farmers.

One of the major reasons farmers are having to use more and more antibiotics is that demand for meat is going up, and animals are often subjected to smaller and smaller living quarters, where disease can spread.

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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