TWN Info Service on Health Issues (Jun18/10)
27 June 2018
Third World Network

NRDC report: antibiotic overuse in pig production contributing to spread of antibiotic resistance

Dear friends and colleagues,

A recent report from the US Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) estimates that more than 27 percent of all medically important antibiotics sold in the US are for pig production, while a roughly equivalent amount (27.6%) is sold for use in human medicine.

According to the NRDC report, the widespread antibiotic overuse in the pork industry and livestock production is a key contributor to the spread of antibiotic resistance in both animals and humans.

The key findings in the report reveal:

  • The US pork industry accounts for 37 percent of all US livestock sales of medically important antibiotics;
  • The pork industry feeds medically important antibiotics to entire herds of animals even when no pigs are sick;
  • Overuse of antibiotics occurs with the growing consolidation of the US pork industry dominated by larger, specialised farms and by fewer businesses, which dictate production practices;
  • US pork producers use twice as much antibiotics per kilogram of animal as do UK producers, and seven times the levels used in Denmark or the Netherlands;
  • Robust information on the use of antibiotics in livestock production, including in pigs, remains scarce in the US.
  • The irresponsible use of antibiotics on pig farms has created ripe conditions for drug-resistant bacteria to multiply and spread from farms to peopleí, states the report.
  • Giving an example, the report cites the rise of a livestock-associated strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in pig farm workers and their families in several countries.

In the absence of federal action, the report hopes that consumer demand for antibiotic-free pork will make an impact on the pork industry as it has on the poultry industry in the US.

This 13-page NRDC report entitled Better Bacon: Why itís high time the US pork industry stopped pigging out on antibiotics can be downloaded from the link given here:

With best wishes,
Third World Network