Twenty-five years ago, Norwegians were also losing their lives to this bacteria. But Norway’s public health system fought back with an aggressive program that made it the most infection-free country in the world. A key part of that program was cutting back severely on the use of antibiotics.
Now a spate of new studies from around the world prove that Norway’s model can be replicated with extraordinary success, and public health experts are saying these deaths – 19,000 in the U.S. each year alone, more than from AIDS – are unnecessary.
Why do I bring attention to news from the medial industry in a blog about agriculture? Because the same solution to an unnecessary problem, use less antibiotics and you won’t need many antibiotics, applies in farming as well.
Consider this article from mid 2009 for comparison.
Researchers say the overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals has led to a plague of drug-resistant infections that killed more than 65,000 people in the U.S. last year – more than prostate and breast cancer combined. And in a nation that used about 35 million pounds of antibiotics last year, 70 percent of the drugs – 28 million pounds – went to pigs, chickens and cows. Worldwide, it’s 50 percent.
I am not sure why one article indicates that 19,000 deaths occur from antibiotic resistant bacteria in the U.S. each year while another says “more than 65,000” but the statistic that really caught my attention was that over 2/3 of antibiotics go to livestock. And as I commented upon previously, organically managed poultry given no antibiotics have the lowest levels of contamination.
The bottom line is that livestock producers need to learn from the Norwegian public health and hospital specialists–when it comes to antibiotics, less does more. This isn’t anything new to those of us involved in organic farming, but as the public becomes more aware of this topic and desires healthier food, we will be here to provide it.