Antibiotics are good. They are little herbicides for the body. They kill the pesky plants that want to grow inside you.
Antibiotics are bad. They don’t kill all of the bugs, and the ones that survive pass on their ability to evade to the future generations. This is worse if a person doesn’t take all of the recommended pills over the number of days required. Antibiotics improperly prescribed, or improperly taken are a hazard to the future.
Antibiotics are good. It turns out that giving low (sub-therapeutic) doses of antibiotics to confined animals makes them grow more quickly. How much more quickly?
The Animal Health Institute of America (AHI, 1998) has estimated that, without the use of growth promoting antibiotics, the USA would require an additional 452 million chickens, 23 million more cattle and 12 million more pigs to reach the levels of production attained by the current practices.
Bearing in mind that that estimate is from a study almost fifteen years old, and that US meat consumption has done nothing but go up in every intervening year and you get an idea of just how much bigger the livestock is that has been fed low-doses of antibiotics.
The cattle industry in the USA is, perhaps, the most dependent on growth promoters as cattle have energy requirements that are high and that cannot be met easily without the use of growth promoters. High energy rations increase muscle growth and fat deposition in beef cattle, and help to improve milk productivity in dairy cattle. Unfortunately, the use of such rations is associated with side-effects, such as bloat and lactic acidosis, which can be debilitating or even fatal. These conditions are not a problem in Europe, where cattle diets contain more forage. To counteract this, monensin is used and, in addition to preventing the aforementioned conditions, it also significantly reduces ammonia and methane emissions (Mbanzamihigo et al., 1995).
This is also old news, and is cited here for the information that the cattle industry is giving antibiotics to cattle because they grow bigger, faster. The whole point is that they grow to market weight while consuming less feed and over a shorter time. It’s to save money. Cattle that graze their entire lives also eventually reach market weight. Their feed is provided gratis by nature, and they are turning the sun’s energy into energy that we can consume. All we have to do is wait for it.
Antibiotic use in livestock is banned in Europe. It could be banned here, too. But….the President just issued and executive order creating a commission to study antibiotic use in medicine and agriculture…
The section on agricultural use in the council’s report “sounds like it was written by someone from the meat industry,” said Dr. James Johnson, a professor of medicine and an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota. “Really disappointing. Actually, depressing.”
Sub-therapeutic doses in our livestock (cattle, pork, chicken) cause the animals to grow quickly, and to produce the extra fat so beloved by the US consumer. I wonder, if those antibiotics go from the food animal to the food consumer, could that account for the increase in fat among our population? I often hear scientists wondering aloud if some of the resistant bacteria contained in our guts comes from the antibiotics we receive from feedlot animals, but I haven’t yet heard anyone wondering if the antibiotics in our foods are making us fat, just like those same antibiotics are making the food animals fat. If we are getting a sufficient dose of antibiotics to create resistant germs, then it stands to reason that we are getting enough to cause weight gain, as well.
Well, at any rate, you, personally can wait for the cavalry to ride in and defend you, or you can take these matters into your own hands. It is not that hard to find meats grown in your locality, by farmers that don’t feed antibiotics, grains, or growth hormones. When you find one, you just purchase your meat there. When enough people are avoiding feedlot and confined animals that it’s costing the Tysons and Smithfield Foods of the world more than feeding antibiotics is saving them, they will change. All that matters to a corporation is money. They have no conscience, they have no soul to worry about getting into heaven. You can defend yourself from antibiotics harmful side by taking your medicine, and eating locally grown, antibiotic free meats. At the same time you are contributing your full measure of support to a grassroots effort to clean up the meat supply of America without having to wait around for the government to do anything about it.