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Medicine Science

Animal Farms Are Pumping Up Superbugs 551

oxide7 writes "The philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once famously said, 'That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.' That may or may not be true for human beings, but it is certainly true for bacteria. The superbugs are among us and they are not leaving. Indeed, they are growing stronger. 'The problem is that the animal agriculture industry makes massive use of low-dose antibiotics for growth promotion and in place of effective infection prevention methods,' Young said, adding that the farm animal population is much larger than the human population. The low-dose antibiotics do not kill the disease. They make the disease stronger, more resistant to those and other antibiotics. The animals — the cattle, pigs and chickens — thus treated become superbug factories. The diseases stay in them and they wash off them to infect the surrounding environment."
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Animal Farms Are Pumping Up Superbugs

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  • by Dodgy G33za ( 1669772 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:12PM (#33760332)
    As a vegetarian.... Actually, you know, I can't think what to write next. But I guess it doesn't matter because my smugness will get all of you going whatever I say next...
  • by robably ( 1044462 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:14PM (#33760374) Journal

    How about we feed the animals the foods they were DESIGNED to eat

    Even better, feed them the food they have EVOLVED to eat.

  • What about... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chiui ( 1120973 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:15PM (#33760392)

    using no antibiotics and killing the diseased animals? In the long rung they would get superanimals :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:16PM (#33760412)

    You'd still have to pump them full of antibiotics.
    The environment they are in tends to be pretty bad due to trying to pack as many animals together as possible to increase profit by lowering costs.

    Doubtless having animals eat the kinds of food they should actually be eating would help the situation some, though, as it would remove some of the needs for antibiotics and artificial diet balancers.

  • Re:Is this a news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DJ Jones ( 997846 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:17PM (#33760428) Homepage
    Congress is too busy regulating rulers and paperclips in Science kits.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:20PM (#33760486)

    I live in a self-sustaining vegan-only village. If you do any business with meat-eaters, you're still supporting it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:20PM (#33760488)
    Their design by evolution... stop being fucking pedantic you know what he meant.
  • by Stargoat ( 658863 ) <> on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:22PM (#33760536) Journal

    If you would have RTFA, you would realize that the animals are being pumped full of antibiotics to increase size, not to keep them disease free.

  • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:31PM (#33760732) Journal

    Actually, it is not what is wrong with Capitalism. This is what is called an externality []. Basically a unaccounted for benefit or cost. The role of government is to see things like this that the market cannot account for and be sure to tax or regulate according to the cost.

    It isn't terribly difficult. The problem is we have the right with their Pavlovian "Government is bad" chant, and the left which wants to micromanage. You then have the majority of the population which doesn't really understand economics and just listens to their favorite commentator think for them.

  • by Fastolfe ( 1470 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:33PM (#33760772)

    I don't understand what this has to do with Capitalism. Can you describe some other type of economy that would not result in the same outcome? The real problem is that efficiency in cattle ranching is at odds with your sense of decent living conditions for these animals. Any system that rewards efficiency and does not adequately protect the animals will have this outcome. The solution is to regulate how animals are treated and their living conditions. Or, at the very least, have a certification and labeling program to allow consumers the option of only purchasing from ranches that meet their personal standards.

  • Re:Growth? What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:37PM (#33760842) Homepage Journal

    They help animals digest there food more efficiently. For example, about 5% of the food a pig eats would normally lost to the bacteria in the digestive tracks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:38PM (#33760870)
    Fear the human factories that consistently fail at completing antibotic regimens prescribed by a physician. Peeps get pissy and whine about how they feel on them, don't complete the therapy, and leave behind only the strongest of the bacteria in their bodies. When it comes back (and it will) it will only be worse, and your prescription will be less effective and you'll be more pissy cuz you'll need something stronger. Oh, and not to mention the antibacterial soap that is effectively doing the same thing in sewage and storm drains.. yum!
  • Re:Buy organic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:41PM (#33760912) Homepage

    Too bad that "organic" is an overloaded term with not clear definition, especially in the realm of the food industry.

  • Re:Growth? What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:48PM (#33761048)

    Watch a documentary or two. Animals raised in an environment where they aren't exposed to typical bugs don't develop the same strong immune system as animals exposed to these things since birth. Imagine you were born in a box and lived your whole life in that box. After some time your immune system would become suppressed and you would need this stuff to survive.

    This reminds me of a study I once read about (I think it was done in Germany) where they looked at the immune systems of children raised on farms and were regularly exposed to livestock. They compared this to the immune systems of children raised in an urban setting and found that kids who grow up with regular exposure to animals had a stronger immune system. Same concept.

    I like to eat animals, but it is troubling to know the truth about how they are raised. I feel fortunate to live in a region where it is possible to raise animals in a less manufactured way.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:50PM (#33761084)
    The summary gets one thing wrong. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are not stronger than those that are nor antibiotic resistant. As a matter of fact they are weaker. Generally, the way that bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics is by shutting down the cellular mechanism that the antibiotic uses to get into the cell. However, that cellular mechanism serves a useful function in the cell (usually to bring nutrients into the bacterial cell). When antibiotic resistant bacteria are in an environment without antibiotics they generally die off over a relatively short time-span. This is why currently most infections with antibiotic resistant bacteria occur in hospitals.
    That being said, excessive use of antibiotics is still a bad thing.
  • Re:no shocker (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:50PM (#33761096)

    anyone who has not had their head stuck in the ground

    possible exceptions being the evolution deniers

    The intersection of those two groups would be a nice definition of the null set.

  • Re:Is this a news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:53PM (#33761144) Journal

    GOOD. I hope banning antibiotics in livestock passes. Also banning ag companies from accusing innocent farmers of stealing their gene-modified corn.

    This is a perfect example of unintended consequences, where antibiotics cure human disease, but then the germs "fight back" and revive in a more deadly form which we don't know how to stop. I wouldn't be surprised if the 2100s experiences as much death from disease as people in the 1800s did.

  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:55PM (#33761188) Homepage

    Actually, it is not what is wrong with Capitalism.

    What? It's exactly what's wrong with capitalism. Hell, you pointed out the problem yourself! Negative externalities are *specifically* a fundamental flaw in pure capitalism, which is why it must be tempered with some level of government intervention.

  • Some info (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:57PM (#33761228) Homepage Journal

    1) the animals use a very low, non therapeutic dose, most of which is lost in their waste.
    2) there isn't any good evidence that this causes superbugs. Yes, intuitively it seems so, and there may be a mechanisim in place, and it really wouldn't surprise anyone if this turned out to be the case, but no study backs any of that up.
    3) it is now that the over use of therapeutic doses causes this issue.
    4) not all bugs become superbugs
    5) superbug doesn't mean more virulent.

    We need to understand the precise mechanism on how the antibiotics work for growth. The exact chemical reaction. Then we can produce more specific drugs.

    We should be using the Swedish model. Slightly less product per animal. I I don't think a 1% increase in meat costs is going to be a big deal to any individual persons budget

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:58PM (#33761236) Journal

    Evolution is an automated design process with a more complete specification than manual engineering.

    Eh? Evolution has no specification and only one requirement: Survive to reproduce.

  • by Philomage ( 1851668 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:14PM (#33761582)
    ...the uncontrolled experiment in microbe evolution being conducted in workplaces all over North America. In my own workplace there are these sanitation stations on every floor, in every wing, that dispense alcohol gel. Thousands of people everyday, in my complex alone, depopulate the flora and fauna of their hands to let the evolutionary lottery pick new winners to see what develops. I truly fear for the future of humanity.
  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:17PM (#33761648) Homepage

    People are blindly following the sciences, and that's a huge problem.

    Yeah, here's a little hint: People blindly doing anything without considering the long-term consequences will likely fuck shit up. At least science provides us with the necessary tools to predict and evaluate those consequences.

    I mean, you don't *really* think this whole "livestock superbug" thing is suddenly a new, entirely unpredicted discovery, do you?

  • Re:Is this a news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by n6kuy ( 172098 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:20PM (#33761726)

    Regulate it with your pocket book. Know what you are buying. Don't ask the government to limit liberty in lieu of your own due diligence.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:21PM (#33761744)
    Cows are partially designed. Many domesticated species differ greatly from their wild ancestors. Cows included. Chickens too. Pigs a little, but not so much. Bananas are an extreme example.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:27PM (#33761866)

    I think it's fair to say that cows are both evolved and designed. Their basic makeup (including digestive system) is evolved, but the domesticated cow is the product of selective breeding and is a long way from the auroch from which it was derived.

  • Re:Is this a news? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:31PM (#33761918)

    Considering there are no laws about labeling for that sort of thing how do we do that?

    Clear labeling must be enforced by law.

  • In vitro meat (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:34PM (#33761984)

    It needs to be used. Not only for the well being of animals everywhere, but for reasons such as this (if it would solve it, at least).

  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:49PM (#33762296)

    3) pipe sewage to huge waste ponds, then spew it out onto open ground. To hell with the neighbors who complain about the smell

    It's not a waste pond, it's 100% all natural fertilizer storage the type of which has been in use since humanity began farming, including by those family farms you imagine were run so differently. The alternative is to spread artificial petroleum based fertilizer on everything or not be able to farm the same field after about 10 years. So yeah, to hell with the neighbors who complain about the smell, they don't know what they're talking about.

  • by JonySuede ( 1908576 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:59PM (#33762468) Journal
    so stop buying the cheapest meat as possible
  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @02:05PM (#33762588) Homepage

    Basically a unaccounted for benefit or cost. The role of government is to see things like this that the market cannot account for and be sure to tax or regulate according to the cost.

    This is exactly the definition of "Unbridled" Capitalism (ie, free from the government "bridle). I agree with you that it's in the common interest that capitalism is regulated, and the government is the best tool for that job.

    Our major problem isn't with the people who are brainwashed into "free markets == victory" mantra, but the brainwashers (ie, the corporate controlled media) and the money that pays everything and everyone to buy into that flawed concept.

    The wealthy and corporate elite are the ultimate villains here, they will do what they did to other countries where they strip-mined the land, put the people into slave labor, in the name of pure profits.

    We in the US/EU ignored it then because we benefited from it, but now it's coming back to bite us because these multinational corporations and their controlling funders are now more powerful than governments and have quite a few in their pockets. World domination won't come through the flawed UN, but instead through the "invisible hand" that controls and dominates numerous governments across the globe into doing it's bidding.

  • Re:Is this a news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @03:38PM (#33763938) Homepage Journal

    Doesn't the development antibiotic resistant bacteria involve evolution?

    Indeed, and this is occasionally used to illustrate why the evolution/creation "debate" isn't just an intellectual exercise. Here in the US, the creationists have effectively suppressed the teaching of evolution in our school system (below the college level). The result is that most of the population, including the people running all those farms, have been intentionally kept ignorant of the evolutionary process. They don't understand that they're forcing the evolution of antibiotic-resistant micro-organisms. If you were to mention this to them, a lot would react with the standard religious anti-evolution rhetoric, and reject your accusation that they're doing something dangerous. They either "know" that evolution doesn't exist, or they "know" that it takes millions of years and is thus irrelevant to them.

    We're living with the consequences of allowing the religious nut cases to block teaching of the evolutionary process. Or rather, we're getting sick and sometimes dying as a consequence of this.

    Something that doesn't even exist and is just a Jewish conspiracy.

    Heh. I thought Darwin was educated in the Christian ministry. ;-)

  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @08:55PM (#33767114) Homepage Journal

    Gawd, not this/i unimaginative debate again. ... why can't a "Universal Awareness" (I dislike the word "God," to me it sounds so ass-backward and presumptuous) have used "evolution" to influence "design?"

    Actually, in this case that's what people were talking about. Except the "design" wasn't done by a [Gg]od. It was done by a million local animal breeders over thousands of years, who started with a number of wild animals, and through selective breeding, produced the modern milk/egg/meat machines that give us most of our protein.

    Similar selective breeding was done by other millions of growers to produce our modern grains, some of which are so different from their wild ancestors that we're not sure just which wild species were the ancestors.

    However our domesticated animal and plant species came to be, we know a fair amount about how they turned into the current species. There was a good deal of "intelligent design" in this process. Urban stereotypes of dumb rural hicks aside, many of those millions of growers and breeders did know what they were doing and how they wanted their animals and crops to change.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton