Are Factory Farms Helping To Create Deadly Super Bugs?

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The Government Accountability Office reports that federal agencies aren't doing enough to keep an eye on the use of antibiotics on farms. The GAO found that the FDA and the USDA do such a poor job of oversight that officials can't tell to what extent the practice is leading to the development of drug-resistant pathogens, like the staph infection, MRSA.

MRSA now kills more Americans each year than AIDS, and peer-reviewed research has found that the over-use of antibiotics on farms helps create antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Factory farms use a small number of antibiotics to treat sick animals, but a much larger proportion to help animals gain weight faster. It's not clear why antibiotics lead to faster weight gain in animals, but research has shown that they do.

A recent USDA review, that was later removed from the agency's website, found that "use and misuse of antimicrobial drugs in food animal production and human medicine is the main factor accelerating antimicrobial resistance."

The meat industry argues that factory farms are not leading to antibiotic resistance.


This segment aired on September 15, 2011.


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