Antibiotics use in livestock on the rise around the world

by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
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WASHINGTON – Countries around the world will see a significant increase in the use of antibiotics in animals used for food, according to a new study.

The study, “Global trends in antimicrobial use in food animals”, presents the first global map of antibiotic consumption in livestock. The map includes 228 countries, and estimates the total consumption 2010 at 63,151 tons.

“We project that antimicrobial consumption will rise by 67 percent by 2030, and nearly double in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa,” the study said. “This rise is likely to be driven by the growth in consumer demand for livestock products in middle-income countries and a shift to large-scale farms where antimicrobials are used routinely.”

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration must approve all antibiotics used for livestock and poultry consumed for food, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) notes in “The Facts About Antibiotics in Livestock & Poultry Production.”

The FDA advised livestock and poultry producers to phase out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion. NAMI and its members supported the plan. Antibiotics are used to treat animals for illnesses and to prevent the spread of illness.

“There is no question that antibiotic use in livestock and poultry production is declining on a per animal basis as meat and poultry producers respond to public concern and as antibiotic use for growth promotion is phased out voluntarily at FDA’s request,” NAMI said.

The study states that global demand for animal protein is rising at an unprecedented pace, and modern production methods are “associated with regular use of antibiotics, potentially increasing selection pressure on bacteria to become resistant.”

At least one-third of the increase in antibiotics use in food animals can be attributed to shifting production practices in “middle-income countries” that replace extensive farming systems with “large-scale intensive farming operations.”

“For Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the increase in antimicrobial consumption will be 99 percent, up to seven times the projected population growth in this group of countries,” according to the study. “Better understanding of the consequences of the uninhibited growth in veterinary antimicrobial consumption is needed to assess its potential effects on animal and human health.”

The study was done by researchers with the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy at Princeton Univ.; the International Livestock Research Institute and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. It was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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