Antibiotic Resistance to Claim 10 Million Lives a Year by 2050

Antibiotic Resistance to Claim 10 Million Lives a Year by 2050

Antibiotic resistance is a global problem that could soon spiral out of control.

According to new research conducted for the U.K.’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, an uncontrolled rise in antibiotic resistance could be causing 10 million deaths every year by 2050.

The research team looked at the economic impacts as modeled by RAND Europe and KPMG that antibiotic resistance would have on the planet, with three main resistance outbreak concerns: Klebsiella pneumonia, E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

“According to the research, these scenarios would cost $60-100 trillion U.S. dollars — equivalent to the loss of about one year’s total global output — and cause 300 million people to die prematurely over the next 35 years,” Food Safety News reports.

Additionally, the team also looked at HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, which are also impacted by antibiotic resistance.

“Malaria resistance leads to the greatest numbers of fatalities, while E. coli is the largest detractor from GDP accounting for almost half the total economic impact in RAND’s results,” the report states. “Because malaria and TB vary far more by region than E. coli in the studies, they are the largest drivers of differences between countries and regions.”

The report sternly warns: “It is not clear how many more people will get infections when prophylactic antibiotics do not work, nor do we know how many people will opt to take on the risk and still have procedures.”

Antibiotic resistance has been rising increasingly over the last several decades, largely in part due to antibiotics in livestock feed. In the U.S., more than 80 percent of antibiotics are given to animals. While they are frequently given to treat illnesses and disease, they’re most often administered as preventative measures and to enhance animal growth—a side effect of the drugs.

The World Health Organization has advised a strong plan of action to move industrial farming away from antibiotic dependence. Here in the U.S., regulatory agencies are slow to enforce strict antibiotic regulations despite the mounting scientific evidence about the dangers they pose.

California governor Jerry Brown recently vetoed a bill to regulate antibiotics in livestock for growth enhancement that would have allowed producers to continue to use them for “medical” reasons. Major chicken producers Tyson and Perdue have recently removed antibiotics from their chicken hatcheries and in a major victor for the nation’s children, the largest school districts in the country have announced they will only be sourcing antibiotic-free chicken for school meals.

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Image: Mercy for Animals Canada

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.