>From 2000 to 2018, the proportion of antimicrobial compounds with resistance higher than 50% (P50) increased from 0.15 to 0.41 in chickens and from 0.13 to 0.34 in pigs and plateaued between 0.12 and 0.23 in cattle.
>Globally, 73% of all antimicrobials sold on Earth are used in animals raised for food.
Jeeeesus. It sure feels like humanity is painting itself into a corner along multiple dimensions. I wonder at how many previous points in history did new technology save us from the brink of annihilation. Im not sure we've ever been powerfull enough to be truly as in danger as we are now.
On the other hand, earth is still slaloming between asteroids we cant predict or stop so we've never been out of danger at all. Oh well, back to work.
Take this paper for example. See figure 2? Those numbers come directly from the trend lines on those figures. But look closely at the data. The shading effectively represents how much data they have each year. In the "Chickens" figure there is a box plot in 2000 that is barely discernible, but if you look carefully you see that the distribution matches recent years. How convenient that that data was hidden, since it directly refutes their conclusions.
In fact, the fact that they used bar graphs here is extremely questionable when a scatter plot would far better represent the data. We'd easily be able to glean what the box plots are trying to hide: that the data is extremely noisy, that past data is almost non-existent, and that every year the range of their distribution is nearly 0%-100%.
While there might indeed be an effect in the data over time, the fact is that the effect is far smaller than year-to-year variability.
I mean when the Black Death comes along and mops up 30-60% of a continent's entire population in half a decade, you get a little more respect for how terrifying nature has manifested in history...
With that said, we've been two key turns and a button press away from total annihilation since the mid-1950s when the US and Soviets started assembling their nuclear stockpiles.
The fact society still exists past the Cuban Missile Crisis should be considered history's greatest miracle.
That's the all gist about meat consumption: let's look at all the problems meat production has in emergent and 3rd world countries and then tell people in the West they shouldn't eat meat.
My point isn't to dismiss the problem, just that it would mean things like surgery being much riskier, not massive die offs.
The proportion would probably also be reduced in at least 2 ways. The geographic extent would be smaller, and in areas where there were outbreaks, fewer people would be infected.
If there was a good vaccine match for the virus, even more so.
This is definitely not my area, but as a lay person I've heard that because of the large increase in global travel, a dangerous flu strain could spread basically to basically every continent before we had time to meaningfully respond. Do you have reason to believe that isn't the case?
Population of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh 1900: 295m
Population of the UK and Ireland 2019: 68m (+70%)
Population of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh 2019: 1,700m (+576%)
"Earth's phosphorus is being depleted at an alarming rate. At current consumption levels, we will run out of known phosphorus reserves in around 80 years, but consumption will not stay at current levels. Nearly 90% of phosphorus is used in the global food supply chain, most of it in crop fertilizers. If no action is taken to quell fertilizer use, demand is likely to increase exponentially."
You can't assume that the virulence of bacteria with evolved antibiotic resistance will be like that of the strains that existed in 1900.
Before we invented artificial fertilizer, we were legitimately afraid that we're run out of land to grow food.
it's called capitalism, and "increasing shareholder value". This is why large corp lobby in the USA, this is why big pharma bribes anyone with a stethoscope, this is why big oil is trying to stop/slow/control progress of solar/wind.
"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children"
Edit: for many people, today & money is far more important than tomorrow & children. I hope that humanity proves me wrong, but it will get darker before it gets brighter.
Now, if only scientists could learn how to point fingers...
Recent news that the federal government is reducing inspection of meat really does scare me. How many people need to die (like in the early 1900s) before we re-realize the importance of these regulations on public life? When will the next Upton Sinclair come along?
Syphilis and TB antibiotics are being used to combat disease on orange trees in Florida:
The E.P.A. has proposed allowing as much as 650,000 pounds of streptomycin to be sprayed on citrus crops each year. By comparison, Americans annually use 14,000 pounds of aminoglycosides, the class of antibiotics that includes streptomycin
In its decision to approve two drugs for orange and grapefruit trees, the E.P.A. largely ignored objections from the C.D.C. and the F.D.A., which fear that expanding their use in cash crops could fuel antibiotic resistance in humans.
scientists are especially worried that the drugs will cause pathogenic bacteria in the soil to become resistant to the compounds and then find their way to people through groundwater or contaminated food.
Several lawmakers wrote to the EPA last month to urge a rethink of the policy given legitimate scientific concerns around the issue of antimicrobial resistance. To quote the letter:
Antibiotics are life-saving medicines and, except in extraordinary circumstances, should only be used to treat specific illnesses in people and animals," the lawmakers wrote. "EPA's assessments appear to ignore scientific evidence, violate the principle of judicious antibiotic use, and could create unnecessary harm to human health by authorizing an unprecedented amount of medically important antibiotics to be used for plant agriculture.
This means that if a benign bacteria develops resistance, that gene can easily find its way into a pathogenic one if they are both in the same environment.
I think after all this time he is about to be proven right.
He had a quote along the lines of "I aimed for the heart and hit the stomach"
> "I aimed for the public's heart," Sinclair later wrote, "and by accident hit it in the stomach."
I'm working in this space for a tiny company that delivers high quality, low antibiotic use, low environmental impact, pasture raised single-source meat products in California. We're going to run farm education "meet the rancher" events to get people out to where the meat is actually produced, but we have to be realistic: that's more for the instagram photo ops to convince people that we're legitimate instead of to truly change consumer behavior.
The ugly truth is Americans eat too much meat, and we expect it to be dirt cheap. Meat has been heavily subsidized, and all the externalities from industrial meat production have been ignored, for the past 60 years at least. Turning back the clock on those consumer expectations is going to be very painful.
I'm also extremely worried about the rise of industrial meat production in the developing world, but it seems elitist of wealthy Americans to complain about Chinese agriculture standards when we can't even fix it in our own backyard.
>Factory farms are the bigger problem, not just meat per-se.
Not just meat farms! One thing vegans and vegetarians often gloss over is the death per calorie involved in crop fields. Those thousands of acres have animals in them, and the machines sure dont stop for every varmit that gets in the way.
It is not clear what the right answer is (assuming all you care about is number of animal lives, which is an inadequate measure anyway). The best advice i know of is to only eat well raised cow meat because 1 cow provides a lot of calories, and vegetables, chickens, and pigs etc do not and kill lots of animals.
It takes significantly more feed to raise a cow. The calories extracted from cow meat is extremely inefficient considering the high number of calories in (feed) and water. So, you could not use feed (vegetable death-per-calorie!) because it's something like a 8:1 calorie ratio for feed to a pound of beef. You'd have to pasture raise the cows.
There is no feasible way to ensure that all food is pasture-grazing cow meat at a price point accessible to most Americans.
There is currently no cruelty free-way to have cheap, accessible calories. If you really wanted the lowest death-per-calorie, one of the most feasible approaches would be consuming large amounts of rice.
I don't think anyone would want to subsist exclusively on a diet of rice, beans, and dietary supplements.
Maybe Americans (westerners in general actually) should simply eat less? 3 oz of meat per day is enough (5 oz of protein is recommended, but part of that can easily be filled by grains, legumes, cheese, milk, etc...). No one needs 10 oz of meat per day (current average consumption for Americans).
I think this is a part of the problem in dominantly meat-eating cultures: they don't realize how diverse and nutritious plant life is. Treating meat and perhaps milk/eggs as real food and the rest as mostly fillers and in-betweens (I know I did).
Even without meat/milk/eggs/animal products, rice and beans, even barring all legumes and cereal grains, probably even barring all grains (e.g. amaranth, buckwheat, chia, quinoa, also sunflower, poppy, hemp..) there would still be enough plants life to have a diverse diet and probably even fully nutritiously sufficient diet without artificial supplements (a couple of micronutrients can be tricky, e.g. B₁₂).
Many, perhaps even most of the remaining diverse crops are currently notably more work to grow, but they should still have significantly less ecological impact than eating excessive amounts of meat.
Ruminant holon systems like those used by Polyface Farms (Joel Salatin of Omnivore Dilemma fame) are incredibly efficient at both producing calories and utilizing waste products.
Hmm? I am enjoying the wide variety of legumes, for one. :D I make stews out of them. :)
They didn't taste like shrimp though. They also have a lot of chitin.
Eating meat will always have a higher death per calorie. An informed vegan knows that there is no such thing as a cruelty-free diet, only one that minimizes it.
It never ceases to amaze me the decisions that we as a species make with full knowledge of the consequences that seem to be geared towards implementing wide spread disaster. We as a species have very much decided that short term gains are well worth long term disaster.
The Jungle is different now, more clean maybe but also more dangerous.
Businesses never regulate themselves before the disaster because it is always more profitable to use the "there won't be a disaster" scenario plan.
"Private enterprise works on a voluntary basis, a business owner cannot coerce someone to do business with him. Things like loss of reputation, shoddy products, poor service and the like serve as real boundaries for business owners, who in a free market survive only by offering goods that people are willing to purchase.
There are numerous private (read that, voluntary) organizations that police businesses, settle disputes, independently test products, and provide needed information for consumers and producers alike. Yes, these organizations do have a regulating effect upon the behavior of individuals who participate in private production and exchange."
Edit: removed the conclusions, the rest - in my opinion - is relevant to the comment above.
"without government, markets would be a chaotic mess"
No one said those things. You've proved wrong claims that nobody made.
Sounds like a minority of people with power and influence have decided the rules in which they're allowed to exercise that power for profit.
We as a species (as a whole) cannot decide about anything, that's an illusion. Governments decide to allow or disallow for, not us commoners. And it hardly matters on what democratic party you vote, money/economy is their highest priority, everything else is subordinate. So yes, governments allow for this just as they allow for pesticides killing entire insect species, it simply brings in tax money and they cannot afford to disallow.
It implies that farm animals are refusing to take their tablets...
Why not just go with “Alarm as antimicrobial resistance surges among chickens, pigs and cattle” as per the Nature article?
"The antibiotic, not antibiotics, in question is monesin sodium, also known originally by the trade-name Rumensin. It is an anti-biotic in the truest sense- it changes the living conditions for gut flora of a ruminant animal in such a way as to promote the growth of bacteria that produce proprionic acid, and making it less favorable for other microorganisms such as those that cause coccidiosis or inefficient digestion that results in methane gas.
So yes, it's an ionophoric activity. It kills off some stomach bugs by changing the environment inside the cow, promotes others, and makes the animal healthier and more efficient as a result.
Yes, there are other antibiotics fed at times, as prophylactics against respiratory disease disease during severe weather or shipment, but it is illegal to sell animals containing residues, and those additives are expensive.
It's not a surreal concentration-camp factory-farm shoving pills into cows so they roid-rage and turn into bloated meat-sacks, it's a finely tuned process of optimizing cow health and efficiency to get the most out of inputs and the best results. Which in turn means more profit for the farmer. Strange as it may seem, when your livelihood comes from livestock, you put a lot of attention, science, and technology into making sure they are as healthy and happy as possible, so they make you the most money when sale time comes."
This seems like such a huge conflation of terms -- of course there's a lot of attention, science and technology put into animal farming, because it's a huge industry. Making sure animals are healthy makes sense, because you can't sell animals that die before slaughter: but happy? Where did that come from? Since when does the happiness of animals factor in anywhere in the equation of industrial slaughter for meat?
I'm by no means a vegan, and neither am I overly skeptical of markets and their value, but please let's not fall for the siren song of pretending that the market has already made animals as happy as they can be, because "of course they are, because nothing else would make economical sense".
Abhorrent conditions for animals make economic sense: that's why they exist. And this doesn't even address the glaring point of the "game theory" aspect of antibiotics in animal farming.
Your post presents a nice rainbows and sunshine guess at how the animal ag industry works, and I really wish it worked like that, too.
If the goal is to solve a problem, when hearing different opinions and life experiences a better instinct to have is empathy -- calling people shills won't get you anywhere.
He did a good job (to a layperson such as myself anyway) of explaining why big pharma don't have much incentive to develop new antibiotics, possible financial interventions that may makes sense, and the alternative treatments that are being developed.
I haven't read the book, but he's done quite a bit of press around it on podcasts, youtube etc. Definitely worth a listen to learn more about the topic.
I don't believe this to be a contentious issue. It is well understood that the current model and associated costs of drug development provide little incentive for research and development of novel antibiotics.
In the words of the infectious diseases physician I referenced in another comment:
For the past 75 years, we've relied on a partnership between the federal government and big pharma to bring new antibiotics to market. And what we're seeing is that that partnership is dissolving, and it's dissolving for the simple reason that pharmaceutical companies increasingly are having trouble making a profit off of antibiotics.
The reason for that is if you think about an antibiotic, they are prescribed in short courses. And doctors are very stingy about doling them out. And even the best new antibiotic may wear out its welcome when the bacteria become resistant. So what we're finding is that these companies say, why would we want to make a product that doctors don't want to prescribe?
Now to address this, there are a number of policy proposals on the table. They're called push and pull incentives, which can entice these companies to stay in the antibiotic business. A push incentive might be something where you go to a company that's making billions of dollars and say we'll cut your corporate tax rate if you promise to invest some of those profits into new antibiotics. This is a sure-fire way to get more money into the pipeline. However, many people recoil at the idea of giving a tax break to a multi-billion dollar company.
What is your explanation?
Presumably any newly developed antibiotic would be sold for prices similar to existing ones, if not for a premium. If this results in decreasing profits, then we must conclude development costs are rising, which suggests finding new antibiotics is increasingly harder. Sure, we can throw taxpayer money at it to have more drugs developed and introduced in the near-to-mid term, but if finding new antibiotics is indeed continuously harder, at some point it will also be too expensive for public money to finance R&D
We have to aim to solve the root cause, not just mindlessly continue to throw money at it
It might not be impossible but it's a strange double standard that e.g. people would be against any form of cruelty at all to dogs but are fine with factory farmed cows and pigs. I don't find the argument that dogs have been brought up to be companions for 1000s of years a compelling justification. Most people couldn't even watch videos of how cows and pigs are slaughtered let alone do it themselves which to me is telling that they're aware of the suffering caused but choose to ignore it.
Can you explain why producing eggs and cow milk is any less cruel than producing animals only for meat?
In terms of cognitive dissonance, I have a hard time understanding the rational behind vegetarianism to be honest when a vegetarian presumably has looked into the animal farming industry more than a meat eater.
Dairy cows and egg laying hens are still killed very early into their natural life span once their yields drop with the cows being killed for meat, males from dairy cows are killed within weeks as veal because males can't be milked, and any male chickens born are gassed or ground up within days of their life because they don't lay eggs.
You're running wild with an assumption that isn't true. Of course it's just as cruel. I don't purchase dairy or eggs, and only consume eggs in restaurants on rare occasions. Really you're preaching to the choir here.
These kind of baby steps never lead anywhere fruitful. The end goal must be worked towards. Applauding any and every tiny effort just makes people complacent and we never make any real progress. E.g. most vegetarians have no plans to transition to veganism, despite knowing about the cruelties of the egg and dairy industries (which are the same as the poultry and beef industries, just a different point in the pipeline).
Vegetarians appear to suffer from cognitive dissonance as well.
It is possible for people to eat meat and not experience any cognitive dissonance because they're mindfully aware of what they're consuming, what has gone into it, and the reason behind it. See Native Americans as an example. Yes, even the Dalai Lama consumes meat. I don't judge people for their dietary choices. I'm specifically talking about people who gorge on a diet carelessly at the expense of the environment and the economy as a point of evidence that we're unlikely to ever see antibiotics being diminished in the market in our lifetimes.
No offense intended but this is getting derailed a little bit because you seem to be using this thread as a soapbox to push an agenda unrelated to the discussion.
It reads more like you continuing to find excuses to not be accountable. Is the Dalia Lama some ethical authority to hold up as a standard for others? He's just a religious figure important to a specific group of Buddhists.
When you are eating something with eggs from a restaurant  do you also not feel discomfort from two contradictory beliefs?
That's a very shallow interpretation of what I said. You say that you avoid eating eggs at home, which must originate from a belief. And yet you eat them at a restaurant, so why is there the contradiction?
> you're trying to bait me into a corner
You've done that to yourself; or, I am pointing out where you're not being consistent.
Why aren't we on the graph? Are US animal microbes less resistant, and if so why?
I recommend watching "The Coming War with China" documentary on Al Jazeera. It has changed my perspective about the US, China, Mao. It's not all black and white, but rather different shades of grey.