Tuesday, February 12, 2013


http://science.time.com Back in 2005 I spent more time than I care to remember in the backyard chicken farms of Asia. This was the time of the H5N1 avian flu, which broke out regularly in chickens and occasionally (with fatal effects) in human beings, and which always seemed to be one click of the genetic lock away from threatening the entire world. To prevent that mutation from happening - one of that would have allowed the deadly H5N1 virus to spread easily from person to person, like a human flu virus - health officials in affected countries would do their best to track and eradicate outbreaks as they occurred in animals, often by simply culling an afflicted flock.
But there was always one country where that plan never quite worked: China. Chinese chicken farmers had an unfortunate habit of prophylactically dosing their birds with Tamiflu, the only antiviral drug that showed any effectiveness against H5N1.

As a result, it became that much more difficult for health officials to track H5N1 outbreaks, because Tamiflu-dosed chickens could still get infected and spread the virus, but without showing the symptoms that would set off medical alarm bells. And overusing Tamiflu also eroded its effectiveness, as over time the H5N1 virus was able to develop a resistance to the drug. Had an H5N1 human pandemic ever occurred, we may well have been helpless. It’s no secret that Chinese farmers use high levels of antibiotics in animal feed. 
The question for researchers is whether that might be a direct cause of increasing antibiotic resistant infections in humans. For the PNAS paper, researchers actually sifted through the manure-enriched soil found near three large-scale Chinese pig farms, searching for the presence of antibiotic-resistant genes. Since the manure is often sold as fertilizer or washes downstream into rivers, those antibiotic-resistant genes can spread to other forms of bacteria, decreasing the overall effectiveness of the drugs in human beings.

Scientists try to connect the heavy use of antibiotics in animals with antibiotic resistance in people. However, according to Bryan Walsh (a senior editor at TIME), Chinese farmers are hardly alone in their reliance on drugs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that in 2011, 29.9 million lbs. of antibiotics were sold in the U.S. for meat and poultry production - nearly four times the amount sold to treat sick people. "In China and in the U.S., drugs are likely to remain a part of commercial meat production - and the rest of us may pay the price," he warned. Undoubtedly, eating meat is very bad for health. 

The animals that are being raised for meat in the United States are diseased. The livestock industry attempts to control this disease by feeding the animals antibiotics. Huge quantities of drugs go for this purpose. Of all antibiotics used in the U.S., 55% are fed to livestock. But this is only partially effective because the bacteria that cause disease are becoming immune to the antibiotics. The percentage of staphylococcal infections resistant to penicillin, for example, has grown from 13% in 1960 to 91% in 1988. These antibiotics and-or the bacteria they are intended to destroy reside in the meat that goes to market. ... U.S. meat and pharmaceutical industries gave their full and complete support to the routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock, turning a blind eye to the threat of disease to the consumer.

Hinduism TODAY :
"How to Win an Argument with a Meat Eater"
Magazine Web Edition - July 1993 

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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