Human Health and Industrial Farming

Doctors routinely warn patients that antibiotics should be used only to treat bacterial infections, at the proper dosage, and for the full course of treatment because failure to follow these rules increases the likelihood that some of the bacteria will survive and mutate to become drug resistant. Yet many large producers of meat and poultry feed antibiotics to their healthy food animals simply to offset the effects of overcrowding and poor sanitation, as well as to promote faster growth.

In fact, up to 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States go to healthy food animals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all testified before Congress that there was a definitive link between the routine, non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics in food animal production and the crisis of antibiotic resistance in humans. This position is supported by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other leading medical groups who all warn that the injudicious use of antibiotics in food animals presents a serious and growing threat to human health because the practice creates new strains of dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

For more information, visit Pew's campaign on human health and industrial farming.

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