pigIt’s believed most of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to livestock. Feed animals are pumped with antibiotics to counter the health-risks of overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions.

But now, new legislation hopes to ban the use of antibiotics in cattle, hogs, sheep and poultry that aren’t sick, due to fears surrounding the overuse of antibiotics and the rise antibiotic-resistant bacteria harmful to human health:

An estimated 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States go toward healthy livestock, according to a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Proponents of the ban say antibiotics are given to healthy animals over a long period of time to compensate for unsanitary and crowded conditions, and to promote weight gain, rather than to combat an illness.

The concern is that the overuse of antibiotics in animals leads to new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As a result, people may be at risk of becoming sick by handling, eating meat or coming in contact with animals that have an antibiotic-resistant disease.

And recently the U.S. Department of Agriculture banned “downer” cows from the food supply. Downer cows are cattle to sick or weak to stand, but are still slaughtered for food, heightening worry over mad cow disease.

Via Reuters.