Vet Antibiotic and Superbug Connection Grows Clearer

February 19, 2010

Barry Estabrook sums up a new study that probed the connection between feeding antibiotics at factory farms, and the emergence of virulent drug-resistant superbugs:

In earlier studies, the scientists had found that drugs which kill bacteria do so in part by stimulating the production of free radicals in those bacteria—not unlike the ones in humans that contribute to heart disease, cancer, and other maladies. However, when antibiotics are administered to the bacteria at low levels, as they are on factory farms, instead of killing the bugs, the free radicals cause genetic mutations—far more than would normally occur. Some of those mutations lead to new strains of bacteria that can survive what were once-lethal doses of drugs.

Meanwhile, the National Pork Board continues its strategy of issuing hand waving evasions. This is an industry that could immediately discontinue feeding antibiotics to healthy animals—but there’s too much money to be made. (Via Crossfield.) Link.

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