Wanna A Little History With Those Antibiotics?

This essay ran yesterday as part of Scientific American’s Food Week series.

Kinda cool to have a piece in SA: I started using the publication as a primary source for my research waaay back in grad school, and am still using it.

4 thoughts on “Wanna A Little History With Those Antibiotics?

  1. “And why, in 2013, many of us are still debating the need for those drugs on the farm.”

    Are we? Is there really any serious debate that the status quo of massive antibiotic usage on factory farms is ultimately a bad thing for animal and human health?

    The science is pretty clear yet, of course, continued resistance to Congress passing PAMTA comes from the usual suspects – Big Ag, Big Pharma, etc., etc., etc.

  2. The problem as i see it has to do with over use of antibiotics, right?
    Humans as well as animals need antibiotics at times… but i can’t tell you how many times, friends of mine, particularly with small children, get a prescription for antibiotics, when clearly [well at least to me non Doctor] it seemed viral, and fluids and rest did the trick.
    If humans get over prescribed, then i imagine animals do 10 fold

    As to the B12 is it the trace amounts of Aureomycin or the B12 that adds to growth, Surely more research has been done on that, right?

  3. Your first question (or comment): I would argue that American farmers are being targeted unfairly in this issue. Farmers do NOT use the same antibiotics as humans use. Also, there are many many examples of resistant bacteria in other parts of the world, where no one is anywhere near or has ever eaten American meat. So I think (for what it’s worth) that the issue of resistance goes waaaay beyond the farm.

    Your second question: weirdly, no one yet understands why antibiotics function as a growth booster, nor does anyone understand how much is due to the B12 (which will act as a growth booster on its own) and how much is strictly due to antibiotics. Theories about why antibiotics promote growth focus on the intestines (no surprise): a general theory is that somehow it destroys bacteria that otherwise “eat” nutrients. So when the livestock eat the drugs, their feed is more efficient in delivering nutriments.


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