Antibiotic-resistant disease is a major health threat around the globe, such that illnesses once easily treatable with the drugs are now becoming deadly. The cause of the antibiotic-resistance epidemic is quite straightforward: overuse of antibiotics. “Resistant bacteria are more common in settings where antibiotics are frequently used: health care settings, the community and food animal production,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states — and the latter category is of utmost importance. The majority of antibiotics in the U.S. aren’t used in health care settings for humans; they’re used in industrial agriculture, primarily in low, steady doses for purposes of “disease prevention” (which also has the “side effect” of growth promotion, making the animals get bigger, faster). Despite this, exactly how and in what numbers antibiotics are used on U.S farms is a mystery, in large part because, as Wired put it, the data “isn’t considered an obligation owed to public health … it’s a political football.”
The active ingredients of the commonly used herbicides, RoundUp, Kamba and 2,4-D (glyphosate, dicamba and 2,4-D, respectively), each alone cause antibiotic resistance at concentrations well below label application rates, a new study led by researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand has found. Professor Jack Heinemann of the School of Biological Sciences in UC’s College of Science said the key finding of the research was that “bacteria respond to exposure to the herbicides by changing how susceptible they are to antibiotics used in human and animal medicine.” The herbicides studied are three of the most widely used in the world, Prof Heinemann said. They are also used on crops that have been genetically modified to tolerate them. Prof Heinemann said, “They are among the most common manufactured chemical products to which people, pets and livestock in both rural and urban environments are exposed. These products are sold in the local hardware store and may be used without training, and there are no controls that prevent children and pets from being exposed in home gardens or parks. Despite their ubiquitous use, this University of Canterbury research is the first in the world to demonstrate that herbicides may be undermining the use of a fundamental medicine - antibiotics.”
In the 2013 report "Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States" issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 superbugs were identified as "urgent, serious and concerning threats" to humankind. The majority of these dangerous bacteria are in the gram-negative category, as they are equipped with body armor that makes them particularly resistant to the immune response. Most disturbing of all, an increasing number of bacteria are now exhibiting "panresistance," which means they're resistant to every antibiotic in existence. The emergence of E. coli carrying the drug-resistant mcr-1 gene is also major cause for worry. While this bacterium is most commonly thought of in terms of food poisoning, a form of E. coli known as ExPEC (which stands for extra-intestinal pathogenic E. coli) is responsible for over 90 percent of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Interestingly, while conventional wisdom has maintained that UTIs are primarily caused by sexual contact with an infected individual and/or the transferring of fecal bacteria from your anus to your urethra, research has linked drug-resistant UTIs to contaminated chicken meat. As early as 2005 papers were published showing drug-resistant E. coli strains from supermarket meat matched strains found in human E. coli infections. The researchers contend that poultry is the bridge that allows resistant bacteria to move to humans, taking up residence in the body and sparking infections when conditions are right.
The CDC currently attributes vaccines and antibiotics as the two major milestones of modern medicine. Many of us have taken a more critical attitude towards vaccines, but the reputation of antibiotics is still mostly untarnished. Few dare to confront the possibility that the germ theory of disease is highly overrated, that a strong natural immune system is vital for maintaining a healthy “inner terrain” capable of resisting disease, and that maybe Pasteur (father of the "germ theory") was a celebrity scientist hack who was off the mark. Chemotherapy kills cancer cells and healthy cells. Many official cancer deaths are actually chemo deaths, and those who survive chemotherapy are likely to experience cancer again, often within five years. Antibiotics create a similar scenario. They wipe out all microbes in their path, including the more recently discovered “good bacteria” that are now known to be a large part of our immune system. In other words, they harm our immune systems, paving the way for future infections. Not only that, there are definite connections between our gut probiotic colonies and the nervous system. Antibiotics also adversely affect our nervous systems by wiping out the probiotic gut colonies that many are calling our “second brain” because they communicate with the central nervous system. For starters, we need a healthy gut microbiome or internal ecosystem to maintain health regardless of external conditions. A large portion of necessary gut microbiota bacteria gets wiped out from antibiotic use, sometimes permanently.
A stunning 70 percent of all antibiotics important in human medicine in the U.S. are sold for use in animal agriculture. These lifesaving drugs are fed routinely to animals that are not sick in order to promote growth and prevent diseases that spread easily in crowded, filthy factory farm conditions. Public health agencies have declared antibiotic resistance a top health threat in the U.S. -- and the rampant misuse of antibiotics in livestock production is a major cause. Chain Reaction II is the second annual report and scorecard that grades America’s top restaurant chains’ on their policies and practices regarding antibiotics use and transparency in their meat and poultry supply chains. The good news is that consumer and investor pressure has pushed twice as many companies as last year to create more responsible antibiotics policies, particularly for chicken. The bad news is that Olive Garden, KFC and 14 other chains received F grades and little progress has been made on pork and beef. Only two restaurant chains received an A grade: Chipotle and Panera. Read the 2016 scorecard to see how restaurants fared.
One third of all the drugs that doctors write prescriptions for in treating common maladies, especially infections of any kind where antibiotics are so routinely prescribed, contain a toxic ingredient that has unusual and debilitating side effects. A 2013 lawsuit prompted the FDA to issue black box warnings, but physicians are still prescribing these deadly drugs.
Antibiotic-resistant illnesses currently kill an estimated 700,000 people a year globally. By 2050, these illnesses are expected to kill 10 million people. Based on recent news, this could be coming a lot sooner. Earlier this year we reported that a strain of Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE, dubbed by health officials as “nightmare bacteria”) that is resistant to colistin—an antibiotic of last resort—has been quickly spreading across the world. In other words, the “nightmare bacteria” has become resistant to conventional medicine’s last resort drug, which itself has horrendous side effects.
Three years ago, Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, associate director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told PBS FRONTLINE: "For a long time, there have been newspaper stories and magazine articles that asked 'The end of antibiotics?' Well, now I would say you can change the title to 'The end of antibiotics, period.'" Indeed, experts have issued increasingly stern warnings about rising antibiotic resistance for many years now, yet government authorities have been remarkably slow to act. Despite Srinivasan's declaration, the CDC still downplays the hazards of antibiotic resistance while the White House diverts billions of dollars toward combating false flag "emerging threats" like the Zika virus, the public health ramifications of which pale in comparison to the harm caused by drug resistant bacteria. Why? Could it be because the drug industry benefits from continued use of antibiotics, just as it benefits from the Zika scaremongering? What can be said for sure is that these misplaced priorities do not serve the public's best interest.
Antibiotic-resistant infections affect 2 million Americans annually, leading to the death of at least 23,000. Even more die from complications related to the infections, and the numbers are steadily growing. According to the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), just one organism — methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA — kills more Americans each year than the combined total of emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, and homicide. A 2015 report commissioned by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron estimates that by 2050, the annual global death toll from antibiotic-resistant disease will reach 10 million, and the global cost for treatment will be around $100 trillion. Experts have been warning about the implications of antibiotic resistance for years, but as their warnings have largely been ignored, the number of strains developing resistance to even our strongest antibiotics has been allowed to grow unabated. While overuse of antibiotics in medicine and widespread use of antibacterial household products (items containing triclosan) are part of the problem, the inappropriate use of antibiotics in farming bears the heaviest responsibility for creating the antibiotic-resistant superbug crisis of today. An estimated 80 percent of total antibiotic sales in the U.S. end up in livestock.
Careless prescriptions and cattle fattening antibiotics are blamed for the rise of superbugs resistant to everything in the hospital arsenal, but that’s all wrong. Antibiotics fail, because we are all abusing common medicines that also have powerful antibiotic activity. All painkillers, anti-inflammatories, statins, antidepressants, and the whole list of common pharmaceuticals are the problem. We simply use too many drugs. Common drugs should also be labeled as antibiotics, because they kill the sensitive bacteria in your gut and leave behind just the resistant bacteria. Unfortunately, the genetic mutations that make your gut bacteria resistant to drugs, also provide resistance to antibiotics needed to stop infections and that broad resistance to antibiotics can spread to pathogens that then become the dreaded superbugs.