Bad News

Antibiotic Use in Meat Is Soaring Worldwide

Not good.
Not good. Photo: Phil Matt/Corbis

Just as America is making headway with eliminating antibiotics from meat, it turns out developing countries are moving fast in the other direction — and a new Princeton study says these nations really need to cool it, or else the whole planet could wind up crawling with drug-resistant super-bugs.

The authors say that antibiotic use in animals worldwide will increase by two thirds between now and 2030, and it might actually double in giant growing nations like China, Brazil, India, and Russia. Population booms, more wealth, and changing diets all lead to a higher demand for meat and dairy in these regions, and to keep up, producers are pumping animals full of antibiotics. In China alone, the low-level doses in livestock could soon account for almost a third of the world’s antibiotics.

The picture the study paints is one of mutant pathogens killing poor small farmers’ low-antibiotic or antibiotic-free livestock, and of E. coli and salmonella becoming “a death sentence” for humans because people can no longer respond to drugs.


Antibiotic Use in Meat Is Soaring Worldwide