Tag Archives: livestock

Medics are worried antibiotics don’t work – but if we stop using them, we’ll all starve

Glam surgeon
Antibiotics aren’t working, people are going to die. They make people fat too, which also makes them die. The same with the animals – and if they die, we’ll all starve. But at least we’ll all be thin.

Yes, starve. At least 5 billion of us, two-thirds of the world’s population.

That’s the price tag, if we stop using antibiotics.

Not just in health, but in food production.

Where 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics are fed to livestock every year. To the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion pigs and 1 billion sheep that currently feed us.

Which in turn generate the fertile manure to produce wheat, rice and maize – mega-crops that deliver 50% of our plant food energy. As well as the sorghum, millet, potatoes, sweet potatoes, soybean and sugar that provide the next 25 percent.

Antibiotics in everything

Food for us, food for the livestock that feed us – and all laced through with residual antibiotics.

Why?

Because antibiotics are the most efficient agricultural growth boosters ever.

In the 1950s when antibiotics were first discovered, the world population was just 2½ billion. Today – supported by exactly the same land space since the planet hasn’t got any bigger – that figure currently tops 7½ billion.

Only possible by the phenomenal growth-enhancing side effects of antibiotics in animal feedstuffs. Wonder drug medicines for us – boom time jackpot for farmers. From egg to roasting chicken in six weeks. From new born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months. Jackpot!

So why would we pull the plug on the miracle that feeds us all so effortlessly?

Because the bacteria-clobbering MEDICAL miracle of antibiotics is fast not working any more. Bacteria have become resistant to them and developed immunity to them. They have become ineffective – and our own chief Medical Officer for England, Dr Dame Sally Davies, says so.

Pan resistant bacteria

As if to emphasise that point, last week the exploding medical hand grenade was the 70-year-old American patient who died of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) – a bug resistant to ALL antibiotics. Pan resistant bacteria are now a reality.

Antibiotics that don’t fight germs? It’s the end of modern medicine. No more heart transplants or hip replacements. Nor births by caesarean section either. Or any one of the thousands of routine operations and treatments impossible without infection protection.

It’s the end of a lot more besides.

What about all those billions of cows and chickens – and the daily dose in their feedstuff?

To breed in numbers like that, they have to live on crowded and disease-prone factory farms. Antibiotics make them grow faster but also keep them well. Essential for survival in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)

So yes, farmers will keep shovelling antibiotics at them. With 7½ billion mouths to feed, they can’t afford not to. Antibiotics or starve.

Except that just like with us, antibiotics will start failing for them too. And when one animal dies, the rest will follow in quick succession. A bushfire epidemic ripping through a slum – exactly what a CAFO is.

No more miracles

Which puts us between a rock and a hard place. Antibiotics can’t save our lives any more – and can’t save us from starving either.

Oh, but ironically for maximum misery, antibiotics make us fat too, just like the cows. So we have the rewards of obesity to look forward to as well – diabetes, asthma, cancer heart disease. Not a happy future.

But just maybe, a pretty one. Because antibiotics are so heavily part of our diet through our food, two thirds of Brit adults are already overweight or obese – and so are a third of our kids. So at least if we starve, we won’t go out fat.

For as the glamorous Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor once said “you can’t be too rich or too thin”.

Pass the streptomycin.

Picture Copyright: beerkoff / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2017-01-24 17:23:41.

Antibiotics resistance is just the tip of the iceberg

Sinking SOS
Antibiotics won’t save us – they’re already dragging us down

And we mean the biggest iceberg ever.

Because big though the issue of antibiotics resistance is, what’s coming is far worse.

And all we’re doing right now is rearranging the deckchairs before we smash into that iceberg full speed with our eyes wide open.

We need a Plan B, PDQ.

You see, disaster though it is, antibiotics resistance – or antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as the professionals know it – is already a side issue. The collapse of modern medicine, yes. Maybe even the collapse of the world.

Lord Jim O’Neill, AMR Review chairman for the Prime Minister, sort of hinted at it in his official paper.

Mind you, he was using it to demand that future medical use of antibiotics be severely restricted – only made available once proving tests have been made to justify administering them.

Lurking peril

Ah, but check out Page 5 of his Review – the section on Livestock Production. Note that yearly AGRICULTURAL use of antibiotics is estimated “from around 63,000 tonnes to over 240,000 tonnes.”

240,000 tonnes – do the math. That’s 240 billion milligrams – a 32 mg dose for every one of us 7½ billion people here on Earth, EVERY YEAR.

Small yes, a sub-therapeutic dose, but exactly what animals get in their feed to fatten them up for market – accelerate their growth to super-size, super-fast.

Uh huh. The animals are farmed for food – we eat them – the antibiotics in their systems are ingested into our own.

Which means two things.

  • Our own bodies could already have resistance to some kinds of antibiotics from the food we eat.
  • We have similar metabolisms, so in the same way that they get fat, we get fat too.

And we certainly do.

Bigger killers than superbugs

It’s already pretty obvious that two thirds of us adults are already overweight.  Which puts us nicely in line for all the ailments that being fat and obese bring – type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and a whole string of others. Slow killers that take 20 or 30 years to claim us. Beyond the radar for most people – including the doctors and politicians who currently shape our lives.

OK, do the math again. Worldwide that adds up to 3.7 million deaths a year from diabetes,  8.2 million from cancer, and  17.3 million from heart disease  – nearly 30 million a year.

Against that, current deaths from antibiotics resistance total 700,000 worldwide – barely 2.3% of the big killers – though projected to rise as high as 10 million by 2050.

Right now, 43 TIMES MORE OF US are dying a slow death from being overweight than those who succumb to antibiotics resistant superbugs.

Bad, huh?

What about the animals?

But even that’s not the real threat, astronomic though those figures are.

Lord O’Neill and Co are worried about antibiotics resistance, right? About the possible TOTAL failure of antibiotics at some stage in the near future – AS THEY IMPACT HUMAN BEINGS.

But how about animals?

Worldwide right now there are 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cows, and around 1 billion each of sheep  and pigs. Pretty well all of them raised on super-intensive factory farms – thousands crammed together in close, unhygienic conditions, kept alive by regular doses of antibiotics.

Must be hefty doses too, if it takes 240,000 tonnes a year to keep them going.

So what happens if antibiotics fail the animals too?

Well, living so close on top of each other, any illness is going to go through them faster than norovirus on a cruise ship. Except it probably won’t be norovirus, but something more deadly.

Remember bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) – the CJD version of it? Millions of cows were destroyed to keep the disease out of the food chain.

The gruesome fact is that they were going to die anyway. Exactly the same as intensively farmed livestock around the world will do if a superbug takes hold – a runaway wildfire of animal deaths everywhere.

We’re going to get hungry

Which means overnight, no food to eat.

Worldwide.

No lunch or supper for 7½ billion people.

Well, not quite.

50 years ago, before antibiotics were shovelled into Daisy every day, world food production managed to support 2½ million people.

On the same land area – in fact, probably less from expanding cities and new towns springing up – antibiotics have pushed that to the 7½ billion we are now.

So at best 5 billion of us are going to go hungry – two thirds of the world population.

Replacement needed – urgent

So it’s not a question of controlling antibiotics, or running round looking for new ones. It’s time to dump them altogether. To start looking for replacements before a whole load of us die.

Time for our leaders to get serious. That iceberg is a lot bigger than it looks.

And it’s almost on top of us.

Picture Copyright: mihtiander / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-05-23 15:17:04.

Obese? Surprise, surprise – we’re all on fatteners

Sad and fat
You never asked to be big –
it’s not your fault either

The do-gooders are always telling us.

The ones who aren’t fat themselves – yet.

They don’t face the jeers and insults – or the misery of staring in the mirror and feeling ashamed.

Everyone gets a chance

Yeah? Well the good news is, they’re going to get theirs.

One day soon, THEY WILL BE FAT TOO.

And like us, they’ll wonder how the hell it happened.

How they could go from good healthy living – walking the mile from the bus to the office and back every day, just an hour of TV a night, no fast-food except on Saturdays, three times a week at the gym, always a walk on Sundays – and suddenly they’re size 18.

It can happen – and it will.

Because however hard we try, more and more of us are getting overweight every day.

Half of us are already there – the number of us fatties has pretty well trebled since the 1980s.

By rights, we should only tip the scales at 65 kg. Fat chance of that now, we’re more than likely weighing in at 70 kg – and that’s without the largeness factor.

Go back to the 50s, and it becomes even worse. Your average bloke weighed 11 stone 6 (72 kg) with a waist of 34 inches. Today he’s 12 stone 6 (78 kg) with a waist of 37 inches – a real porker alongside David Beckham at 74 kg and 32 inches.

In the beginning

So what happened in the 50s? What was it that triggered our unhappy habit of putting on weight like crazy – when we weren’t even close to scoffing ourselves?

One word – antibiotics.

Not for medicine or fighting disease, but for shovelling into farm animals.

Because it made them grow faster. Bigger, fatter, quicker.

Sound familiar?

Exactly what’s happening to us. Bulking up from chemicals that force our gut bacteria to absorb more calories, the root cause of obesity.

BANG! Jackpot!

Ramping up more and more and more as farmers realised the profit potential – and high-tech, high intensity production took over farming across the board – beef, dairy, mutton, pork, poultry, fish and even plant crops.

Today, round the world, agricultural use of antibiotics tops 65,000 tons a year.

And right there, we’re screwed.

Because however we fill our supermarket trollies, everything’s loaded with antibiotics. Lamb from New Zealand, check. Oranges from Israel, check. Chicken from Norfolk, check. Tomatoes from Spain, check.

The stuff is in all the food we eat, though we don’t know it. In our water too, as the animals poo to enrich the soil, and the ground water winds up in our taps.

Eat, eat, eat

What happens to us is the same as the animals. Some of our gut bacteria gets killed, some of it gets modified. We extract more calories out of the same food and become more efficient at absorbing it. Ever wondered why you get so big but your poo remains the same?

Worse, the switches that tell us when to stop eating get over-ridden. We chomp like there’s no tomorrow. Forget all the baloney about will-power and lifestyle – we become eating machines, just like the farmers force their pigs and chickens to be.

What’s that you say? Antibiotics were banned to EU farmers in 2006?

Quite right, they were – but only for growth promotion. Veterinary use to prevent illness is still permitted. Only on prescription.

Yeah, right.

So what happens when animals are herded so close together that sanitary conditions are nearly impossible? Careful with that, it’s a breeding ground for epidemics. Better pump in the antibiotics just to be safe. Strictly medicinal. Looks good on the brochure too – the healthiest pigs in Britain.

Every mouthful we take, right?

Every day of our life since birth. Not our fault at all, we had no say in it.

The Mac factor

Oh sure, we shouldn’t pig out on burgers – at 540 calories in a Big Mac, we know that already.

Except a Big Mac is not the junk food the do-gooders would have us believe it is. Yes, it’s loaded with calories, one of the best power foods on the planet. In the poor countries of the world, it’s about the best nutritional boost any starving kid could be rescued by.

The best value for money too. Which is why The Economist magazine created the Big Mac Index – a light-hearted look at real money values around the world, because it’s available everywhere.

We shouldn’t worry though. Saying a Big Mac will make us fat is like saying we’ll get pregnant from kissing. It takes a lot of Big Macs – and a lot of kissing – to achieve the reality.

Plus, don’t forget – the do-gooders eat the same food we do. So it’s only a matter of time before they’re fat just like us. Serve ‘em right for ignoring the evidence in front of their face – that fatteners for animals fatten us too.

Avoidance

So what can we do?

Not a lot, everything coming at us is loaded.

But we can avoid it.

The heck with the price tag, switch to organic food. Not the designer stuff that’s been wee’d on by celebrities – the real products that are labelled “Antibiotics Free” or similar. Choose bottled water, stuff you can check comes from a pure source.

If you have to buy regular food, the only thing is to boil it to hell and gone – 30 minutes at least, but then you’ll know it’s safe. Be sure to chuck away the broth though, you’ve only boiled it out, you haven’t got rid of it. Yeah, the food tastes crummy, but what can you do?

Believe it or not – a poo transplant could work. Sounds a bit sordid, but swapping faeces with someone not affected by obesity can change the composition of bacteria in our own gut and set them straight again. There is even a way to do it ourselves.

Now for the first time, all those weight reducing ideas stand a chance of working. With the fatteners gone, we should really see some results.

About time too.

With apologies to anyone already embarrassed by it, who wants to go through life looking like a whale?

Originally posted 2015-12-16 16:55:00.

How our antibiotics fixation is going to kill us

Taking a pill
It might make you feel
better – but long-term
it’s worse

It starts with a bacon sarnie – maybe our most addictive pleasure.

Super-bad for you of course, described by health experts as a “health time bomb in a bun“.

Ah yes, because it’s high fat and a major cause of atherosclerosis – bacon, butter, brown sauce and bread – overdo them and you’re dead.

Actually no – unless you pig out something stupid.

It’s how the bacon gets that way – solid, meaty taste you can’t resist. What happens out on the farm.

A disaster already happening

Antibiotics is how.

Because there’s a lot of money in pigs. So you’ll find them crowded together in high-intensity breeding sheds. Always dirty, often unhygienic – lots of pigs living close to each other, lots of pig poo – a real mission to keep healthy.

Which is where the antibiotics come in. Lots of healthy pigs, a sure-fire success.

Plus there’s a bonus. Antibiotics in their food makes pigs bulk up, especially from young. Bigger, heavier pigs – even more money.

It works the same with poultry – all those mega chicken sheds the size of aircraft hangers. Put antibiotics in their feed and you get bigger, better chickens – they even eat less too. Higher profits, lower overheads.

Which is why antibiotics are used across the board in all livestock production. Beef and dairy cattle. Lamb and mutton. A massive chunk of the food industry on an industrial scale – 65,000 tons a year world wide and rising.

One heck of a health time bomb.

Over-used and useless

Because when it comes to the purpose antibiotics were designed for – fighting disease in human beings – they’re beginning not to work any more. Over-use and abuse have trained bacteria how to be resistant. Our medicines are useless.

Mind you, we’re not exactly innocent ourselves. Jumping up and down with every minor ailment, demanding antibiotics from the Doc like they’re Smarties. Not finishing the course half the time when we get them – teaching bugs to be even more resistant.

“Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat. If we don’t act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection that can’t be treated by antibiotics.”

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies

Catastrophic, yes. But that’s not the time bomb.

The real one is ticking away in our kids.

Because what do antibiotics do? They either destroy bacteria, or slow down their growth – bactericidal or bacteriostatic.

Bacteria are us

But it’s a slowly dawning fact of life that we ourselves are more bacteria than human – colonised over our whole evolution and outnumbered 10 to 1. In our gut alone, there are more than 100 trillion of them – doing the heavy work of digesting, producing proteins and regulating our immune systems.

Hold that thought – regulating our immune systems.

Which means when that antibiotic capsule dissolves in our gut, it’s like a nuclear explosion. 100 trillion bacteria – boom! Yes, it gets rid of the bad guys, but there’s collateral damage too – good guys caught in the crossfire.

No wonder there’s side effects – cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea. All from fighting infection in a hip operation – what’s that about?

Yeah, that’s what happens when we take a pill. But that’s not the time bomb either.

You see, we’ve all of us been taking antibiotics continuously since birth – and even before.

They’re in the food we eat – the beef, pork, mutton and poultry. They’re in our vegetables too – from soil enriched by animal fertiliser. No getting away from it, we’re full of the things.

But hold it.

If bacteria regulate our immune system and antibiotics destroy them, what does that do to the rest of us?

System under threat

Plays havoc with our defences, right? Takes down our protective shield at exactly the same time that bad guy bacteria learn how to be invincible. Double whammy BOOM-BOOM!

Now flash-back to why those young piggy-wigs get antibiotics in the first place. Not the health reason, the money reason.

To bulk them up. Bigger, better, fatter pigs.

And don’t forget the “from young” bit. So their bodies LEARN to be fat.

Just like we humans do – and have been doing – more and more visibly throughout the last generation. Learning to get fat. Shaped that way by antibiotics. Hello Twenty-First Century obesity.

Yeah, you got it. We’ve done it to ourselves and keep doing it. Getting in deeper and paying the price.

We start as babies – our immune systems shaped and trained by our mothers’ own metabolism. Her bacteria teach ours – about good and bad. Some of her passive bad guys even teaching us about bogies we’ve neither of us met.

But she’s got antibiotics in her system from the food she eats – and so have we. Not even born and we’re already picking up bad habits.

It gets worse

There’s an even bigger hiccup if the birth goes iffy. Docs can save Mum and us by doing a C-section – a caesarean to get us out of trouble. It stops the bacterial learning curve though. Once that umbilical cord is cut, her system can’t teach us any more. We’ve got to go with what we’ve got.

Then whoops, what happens if she goes onto feeding us with formula? Any last-minute briefing sessions in her breast milk are denied to us – our bacteria have to make do with an incomplete picture. They don’t know how to recognise dangers, or what to do when they happen.

Yeah, yeah – but the world’s a healthier place than it was generations ago. Clean water, fewer diseases, better living conditions, less chance to get sick.

Except antibiotics have graunched our systems.

Our bacteria don’t see threats, so they make up phantoms. Reacting to things that aren’t there with very real symptoms – allergies, asthma. When you were growing up, how many kids did you know who broke out in hives from a peanut butter sandwich? Or went into full anaphylactic shock?

And now we’re getting fat, too. Never mind what we eat, we bulk up – like our bodies were trained to from birth.

Yeah, antibiotics.

We can’t live with them, we can’t live without them.

But not all bad

Except that’s not entirely true.

Inside our bodies we’re OK, protected by our own bacteria. It’s the outside nasties we’ve got to handle – viruses, bacteria and fungi, waiting to have a go at us.

Washing our hands is a start. Getting rid of germs on our skin we might ingest otherwise.

Sterilising our surroundings is our best follow-up. Misting up our living space with ionised hydrogen peroxide from a Hypersteriliser – oxidising all germs to nothing, keeping ourselves safe.

We may not stop the time bomb.

But at least we can try to slow it down.

Originally posted 2015-11-16 16:18:30.