Antibiotics in Asian Livestock Industry Pose Global Health Crisis, Warns New Report

Antibiotics in Asian Livestock Industry Pose Global Health Crisis, Warns New Report Antibiotics in Asian Livestock Industry Pose Global Health Crisis, Warns New Report
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The use of antibiotics in agriculture in Asia will increase more than double by 2030 given current trends, according to a new report from investor network FAIRR. This increased use of antibiotics in agriculture could have potentially damaging effects on antibiotic resistance the world over.

Today, half of all the world’s antibiotics are consumed in China alone. Antibiotic use in farm animals in Asia is only expected to increase over the next decade, with a 129 percent increase in use with chicken and a 124 percent increase in use with hogs by 2030.

The rise of the antibiotic resistant mcr-1 gene has been linked to Chinese hog farms, where the resistant bacteria first emerged nearly two years ago. This gene has led to bacterial resistance to modern medicine’s “last resort” antibiotic and thus contributed to untreatable bacterial infections in both animals and humans.

The World Health Organization has declared the rise of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria to be one of “the biggest threats to global health today.”

The report, entitled “Asian Factory Farming Report,” also shows that the industry has contributed to an increased threat of the spread of avian flu. The latest strain to take hold in China, H7N9, has proven even more deadly than previous strains and has already killed 84 percent more people in four years than H5N1, which first came to public attention in 2006.

While around the world, experts are recommending that people reduce their meat consumption in order to lessen our impact on climate change, the report projects a 19 percent growth in Asian meat demand by 2025. The report also notes that China’s demand for animal feed is responsible for 35 percent of Brazil’s soybean production, driving deforestation in the country and contributing to increased carbon emissions.

“Growth is driven by a boom in factory farming that creates problems like emissions and epidemics, abuse of antibiotics and abuse of labor,” Jeremy Coller, of Coller Capital, told The Guardian. “Investors must improve the management of sustainability issues in the Asian meat and dairy industries if they want to avoid a nasty bout of financial food poisoning.”

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.