Do potatoes need drugs? No.

As a follow-up to this post and this post, I wanted to link to a recent SciAm article about antibiotics in vegetables. According to the article, 70% of all the antibiotics used in the United States are fed to livestock pre-emptively to prevent disease. Since 90% of the drugs then come out as excrement or urine, which is then used to fertilize vegetable crops, antibiotics are showing up in vegetables at alarming concentrations, including in organically grown vegetables.

[Steve] Roach [public health program director for the non-profit Food Animal Concerns Trust] said “the clearest public health implication” from treating livestock with antibiotics is the development of resistant bacteria that reduces the effectiveness of human medicine. Past studies have shown overuse of antibiotics reduces their ability to cure infections. Over time, certain antibiotics are rendered ineffective.

The Do Bugs Need Drugs campaign gives no indication that the drugs used by prescribed-antibiotic users constitute the minority of antibiotics produced, nor does it give any indication of what impact the rest of these drugs has on drug-resistant bacteria due to their gratuitous use in the farm industries.

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