Antibiotic resistance has been coming for years and could be one of the biggest threats for humanity.
Antibiotics have been herald as one of the greatest medical discoveries however, since they were introduced back in the 1940’s they have largely been abused, causing bacterias to become antibiotic resistant.
Alexander Fleming, who won the Nobel Prize for creating the first antibiotic said, “it’s not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them. There is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.”
According to Princeton University, 80% of antibiotics are used in animal feed as it helps to bulk livestock up faster and helps to avoid spread of disease, as often the animals are kept in cramped conditions, living in their own waste products.
This all began back in the 1950’s when pigs and cows were introduced to a corn based diet. By consuming corn, the animals were able to gain weight more rapidly, however it also created severe digestive disturbances. To address the issue, the animals were fed antibiotics.
In 1976, Professor Stuart Levy of Tufts University conducted the first study showing the dangers of feeding antibiotics to live stock and the possibility of creating antibiotic resistance.
Levy claims, “resistance has developed to virtually all antibiotics used in food animals. The most important driver of resistance selection and spread is antibiotic use. To slow the pace of resistance, the use of antibiotics for growth promotion should be terminated.”
After this study was released the FDA decided to ban non medical use of antibiotics but farmers and drug makers pushed back and the FDA rule was never enforced.
“Why did no one act on it? Because there was a strong lobby,” said Levy. They said, “Well, show us the deaths. Show us the real problem. Otherwise, this isn’t so terrible.”
The farming industry however has fought back saying that the overuse of antibiotics is caused by humans over using them, not the animals.
For years doctors have prescribed antibiotics for common ailments like the flu and sinus infections, all of which are viral and not bacterial.
“Its a prevailing myth,” said Dr. Cliodna McNulty from the Royal College of General Practitioners, “that anyone with green phlegm or snot needs a course of antibiotics to get better. most of the infections that generate lots of phlegm and snot are viral illnesses and will get better on their own.”
In a future without antibiotics, everything from the simplest surgeries to a bacterial infection could become deadly. The World Health Organization has warned that “many common infections will no longer have a cure and once again, could kill unabated.”