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Should we stop eating meat for the environment?
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Livestock production causes antibiotic resistant bacteria

Livestock are protected and healed from diseases by means of an extensive use of antibiotics. This practice may however cause the birth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Additionally, livestock may be given antibiotics regularly for growth promotion under the guise of "disease prevention," due to a loophole in the FDA's 2017 restriction on antibiotic use.

The Argument

Antibiotics are used in meat production to treat, control, and prevent diseases in livestock. In the past, antibiotics have been used to efficiently increase livestock body mass. As of January 2017, the FDA has outlawed using antibiotics for this purpose. They did this in response to growing public concern about the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria as a result of antibiotic overuse. Antibiotic resistant bacteria is a threat because it collects in livestocks’ guts and in their waste. When livestock is slaughtered to be eaten, the antibiotic resistant bacteria from their guts contaminates their meat. People who handle or eat this contaminated meat can be infected by the bacteria, which then causes antibiotic resistance in their own immune systems. Fruits, vegetables, and other produce can also be contaminated with antibiotic resistant bacteria if it comes into contact with soil or water containing waste from livestock. Humans who handle this infected produce can contract the bacteria. Additionally, humans who come in contact with animal waste, directly or through the waste getting into the environment (i.e. water pollution), and humans who come in direct contact with infected animals can contract the antibiotic resistant bacteria. [1] Humans with infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria are at serious risk. Antibiotic resistant germs are extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to treat. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria kills more than 35,000 people in the U.S. every year. At least 2.8 million are infected every year. In most cases of antibiotic-resistant infection, infected people must take extended hospital stays, additional follow-up doctor visits, and costly alternatives to antibiotics to heal. [2] Though antibiotic use has been supposedly outlawed for increasing livestock’s body mass, it is still used routinely and in great quantities in meat production. The fact that antibiotics can be used as “prevention” creates a massive loophole for farmers to continue to use antibiotics for growth promotion. A farmer does not even need to have a sick animal in the herd to justify regularly using antibiotics in all of the livestock’s feed and water as “disease prevention.” One report suggests that of all of the antibiotics that can be used to treat human diseases and that are sold in the United States, about 70 percent goes into the feed and water of animals. [3] The amount of antibiotics that go into the feed and water of livestock is undeniably massive. An increase in antibiotics intake in livestock leads to an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria in those livestock, which can then easily be spread to humans. Humans are already dying in the tens of thousands in the U.S. alone due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Meat consumption must be slowed or eliminated to reduce the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Counter arguments

If the FDA enforced their restrictions on antibiotics better, with closer monitoring of usage and making access to antibiotics more difficult, then we could continue to eat meat without worrying about antibiotic resistant bacteria. The FDA has already acknowledged that antibiotic use is dangerous, so if consumers put a little more pressure on the FDA to uphold and better enforce the restrictions they claim to have set, then antibiotic resistant bacteria would not be an issue. Thus, if there were simply more effective restrictions on antibiotic use, we could continue to eat meat without worrying about antibiotic resistant bacteria.



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020 at 19:26 UTC

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