Growing appetite for meat likely to push antibiotics use, risking human health

Rising appetite for meat likely to cause surge in antibiotic use in livestock, risking human health, said Ramanan Laxminarayan, senior research scholar in the Princeton Environmental Institute, in a study from Princeton University, the International Livestock Research Institute, the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy.

From the story by Andrea White for PEI: Antimicrobials are used routinely in large-scale livestock production as growth promoters and for disease prevention, particularly in chickens and pigs. In the United States, antibiotic administration to livestock currently represents up to 80 percent of total antimicrobial sales. Researchers of the study, which is the first gathering of such global data, forecast a surge of up to 67 percent, mostly from increased use in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. But they note a limiting factor to the study: the lack of data, whether from lack of surveillance programs or from political or legislative barriers.

“With this work we hope to trigger a momentum and show how useful such data could be to inform the design of global concerted policies against antimicrobial resistance,” said Thomas Van Boeckel, a lead author and a Fulbright research scholar in Princeton’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Research for the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also was conducted by Bryan Grenfell, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Public Affairs, WWS; and Simon Levin, the professor of Biology and professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.