How Toxic Agriculture Has Bred Out-of-Control Antibiotic Drug Resistance

Toxic Agriculture

WHOA! Our Food Is Contributing To WHAT Health Problem?

Decades of use of antibiotics in agriculture and livestock by U.S.-based farmers to make their livestock grow faster and bigger has led to at least 2 million American adults and children becoming infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year. At least 23,000 of this figure die as a result of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

In a report commissioned by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on this issue, the study’s authors predicted that by 2050, antibiotic resistance will have killed 300 million people by then (about 10 million deaths annually worldwide). Antibiotics experts say that there might come a time that man will be completely resistant to antibiotics and that common diseases like bronchitis or strep throat might become deadly or fatal.

A Drug-resistant Agricultural Model

The use of antibiotics has been the culprit of this growing threat to life and health among consumers, not only in the U.S. but also in other parts of the world where drug-resistant crops are getting to be popularly planted. According to agriculture experts, about 80% of all antibiotics used in the U.K. are used in agriculture.

The second issue is that low dose antibiotics allow bacteria to survive and become increasingly hardy and drug-resistant over time. In fact, a pioneering study showed that researchers who commonly used herbicides actually promote antibiotic resistance by preparing pathogens to become more resistant to antibiotics. An example is Roundup which was found to increase the antibiotic resistance to E. coli and Salmonella.

E. coli is a type of bacteria that normally live in the intestines of humans and animals. On the other hand, salmonella is a type of pathogen that causes food poisoning, gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, etc. Thereby, herbicide like Roundup is actually “immunizing” the bacteria against the antibiotic. This kind of reaction actually applies to farm crops as well as gardens, parks, lawns, etc. In fact, other herbicides used in the study which include dicamba and 2, 4-D, and perhaps glyphosate which may be useless in the future to a new generation of incoming GE crops.

Glyphosate contamination – a serious yet unknown health risk

For the uninitiated, Glyphosate is the active ingredient of the herbicide Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto, and technically, is also considered an antibiotic. The biggest problem to us all as far as the Philippines is concerned, is that Roundup is so prevalent among our farmers that experts have said – more than 50% of the green produce in our groceries have been exposed to herbicides like Roundup and pesticides.

Now, here is the clincher: Glyphosate residues cannot be removed by mere washing; they are also not broken down by cooking. You can wash off the residues from vegetables or fruits but at least 10% of it would still be left in the food – even if it is dried, frozen or processed.

The impact here is that if you are constantly eating foods contaminated with glyphosate, you are exposing the bacteria in your stomach to a dangerous chemical and allowing pathogens to overgrow there. Likewise, glyphosate kills all your microflora and its capacity to generate essential amino acids like tryptophan which converts to serotonin, the body’s transmitter, of which 90% is generated from your gut. Glyphosate definitely amplifies the damaging effects of environmental toxins and dangerous chemicals you may be exposed to.

Other Factors Contributing to Rising Antibiotic Resistance

We’ve written before about the concentrations of glyphosate or herbicides in the urine of senior people in a home for the aged in San Diego even though they were miles away from any agricultural land here:

The Implications of Glyphosate Being Listed as “Causing Cancer” in the State of California

Aside from that, there are reports of antibiotics being dumped directly into wastewater as practiced by some manufacturing facilities in China and India. Chlorine used in wastewater treatment also exacerbates the problem. Why? Because contaminated wastewater also finds its way into crop fields via irrigation and sludge – and in the case of the Philippines, through floods.

You can’t tell water carrying antibiotics not to pass through farmland, could you?
Some researchers also found antibiotic-resistant genes in hog farms in China. Apparently, metals are added to hog feeds to promote growth in hogs but also contribute to antibiotic resistance.

What is the Government Contribution to this Growing Health Threat?

It would be great if all health officials and heads of state had antibiotic-resistant drugs as a primary issue in this health agenda every year, considering also that an estimated 23,000 Americans die from antibiotic-resistant diseases every year. Reuters said the U.S. government has started to collect data on how prevalent antibiotic use is on farms two years ago.

This is to estimate the severity and extent of the problem in the livestock industry. But since thousands of people are dying each passing year because of antibiotic resistance, I believe it might take some time before the government finds out the results of its lax policies on the use of antibiotics in agriculture, nor that Big Pharma has a hand in promoting the use of antibiotics in agriculture and animal husbandry.

How about you – what is your opinion on antibiotics and its use in agriculture? Share your opinions in the comments section below!

Image by U.S. Department of Agriculture / CC BY 2.0