Antibiotic resistance is killing over 700,000 people a year, experts state. In 2000, there was a zero percentage of children in the world with antibiotic resistance.
Three years ago it was 5 per cent. This year it’s at 9 per cent.
There were 58,000 babies who died in India last year, whose mothers were resistant to antibiotics and passed that on to their newborn offspring. That’s projected to reach 250,000 infant deaths a year in just India.
There are currently 20,000 patients in Canadian hospitals resistant to antibiotics. Over 6,000 older people died in the United States last year after normal surgeries, such as hip replacements, and antibiotics didn’t work.
Antibiotics have become “a mop up” for poor water and sanitation in many Third-World countries, but with a growing income, more antibiotics are being purchased. Countries like Brazil, South Africa and India have seen a recent 36 per cent increase in antibiotic use. China uses half of the world’s antibiotics.Some of these countries have ramped up their livestock production, with the rampant use of ionophores and other antimicrobials.
All this undisputed data was publicly presented at a Quebec City conference by Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease, Dynamics, Economics and Policy at Princeton University, where he was introduced as “the world’s leading authority on antibiotic resistance.”
This is who world leaders listen to and are now rapidly adjusting regulations — which envelopes livestock agriculture in a big way — to deal with this crisis.
The world’s feed industry was there and they take his claims seriously.
I can laugh at the sky-is-falling crowd that global warming, for instance, is killing people, when it has killed no one. Or the cancelling of seed treatment for bees.
But when it comes to humans dying, medically documented around the world in the hundreds of thousands, one takes such facts seriously. One can debate what to do about it, or at what level livestock contributes to the problem, but one cannot dismiss livestock as not having an effect.
Over 70 per cent of the antibiotics used in the world go into livestock.
Digging up soil around western feed lots has shown over 120 resistant genes, spread over 10 miles, said Dr. Tim McAllister, principal research scientist with Agriculture Canada, based at the Lethbridge Research Centre. He detailed how a new drug now takes fewer than five years to become resistant in livestock.
McAllister was torn, realizing the problem, but publicly wondering, “how do we feed the world without intensive agriculture?”
He also made it very clear that farmers claiming (truthfully) that they send milk and meat to market tested for and free of antibiotics, are missing the point of concern, when confronted with this issue.
“Free of antibiotics does not necessarily mean free of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) bacteria, because they are part of the natural microbial world both in the presence and absence of antimicrobials,” said McAllister. “Using antimicrobials in livestock and poultry production undoubtedly increases AMR.”
The head of Health Canada’s Veterinary Drug Division, Dr. Mary Jane Ireland provided an expert report that projects 10 million worldwide deaths per year from antibiotic resistance by 2050 if nothing is done. More deaths than cancer and diabetes combined, she said.
Canadian legislation is now in the pipeline “that will change the culture” of the livestock veterinary profession and the farmers they serve, said Ireland.
While Health Canada approves new drugs, individual provinces are responsible for their veterinarians, she said. Hence the federal government did not have a good grasp on where drugs were being used, and in what volume, said Ireland.
New legislation will make it mandatory that no vet drugs, either directly for livestock or mixed in feed, can be dispersed without a written prescription, she said. Hence the vets will have to provide data to the provinces and then this will be transferred to the federal government for oversight, she said.
Ireland also detailed how the present law of legally importing non-approved drugs, such as BST, for use in “animals under your care,” has been around for years, but will be dramatically changed.
“It’s not panicsville, but it’s preparatory time,” said Ireland.