Antibiotic Resistance: A Complete Picture
By Pork news staff Monday, November 30, 2009
It’s almost popular to point to antibiotic use in animal agriculture as the primary driver behind the antibiotic resistance phenomenon, but that’s falling short of the complete picture. According to a report by the American Academy of Microbiology, the causes of antibiotic resistance are varied and complex.
Suggesting that antibiotic resistance occurs mainly as a result of antibiotic abuse or misuse doesn’t accurately portray the complete picture. In a report called “Antibiotic Resistance: An Ecological Perspective on an Old Problem,” AAM indicates that even appropriate antibiotic use can contribute to the spread of resistance, underscoring the complexity of explaining its causes and the error in focusing on any one area.
According to the report, “There are no scapegoats.” The report is based on a colloquium that AAM brought together in October 2008.
“Responsibility is partly due to medical practice, including patient demand; veterinary practice; industrial practices; politics; and the antibiotics themselves. Ultimately, resistance development is founded in the inevitability of microbial evolution,” the report states.
It also states that antibiotic resistance is essentially uncontrollable. “Antibiotic resistance is an international pandemic that compromises the treatment of all infectious diseases,” it outlines.
When it comes to the discussion of antibiotic resistance, the low hanging fruit to attack is the use of antibiotics in livestock. For most of my life, anytime I have seen a situation like this where one particular use of a product is being singled out as the “problem”, it’s never worked out that way. And that’s what this report is confirming for us. It’s not just the fact that the farmers and ranchers use antibiotics for animal health, it’s every way that antibiotics have been used that is contributing to this emerging problem.