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View Diary: The looming antibiotic crisis can't be solved by the free market (248 comments)

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  •  Yes. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magnetics, entrelac, JerryNA, Sunspots

    The only reason they need antibiotics in the first place is that they try to make their operations so "efficient" by cramming unbelievable numbers of animals together in tiny spaces without adequate ventilation or exercise.  Denying them the cheap fix at the public expense would force them to treat the animals better so that they could be healthy without all the drugs.  Believe it or not, animals originally evolved to survive without antibiotics, just like we did.

    •  Yes and no (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JerryNA, Sunspots

      Preventing disease isn't the only reason; the antibiotics also promote the animals' growth (see Antibiotic Growth-Promoters in Food Animals). So in free-market terms, they're irresistable: the financial benefits go to the corporation, while the public health costs get paid by society at large.

      •  That's why the state must intervene. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tacet

        It's also rather unclear how antibiotics function in subclinical doses, to promote growth in factory-farmed animals.

        Has anyone done comparative studies with free range animals?

        The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

        by magnetics on Wed Mar 13, 2013 at 07:47:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hypotheses (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          magnetics

          From the link in my first comment:

          According to the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH, 2001), antibiotic growth promoters are used to "help growing animals digest their food more efficiently, get maximum benefit from it and allow them to develop into strong and healthy individuals". Although the mechanism underpinning their action is unclear, it is believed that the antibiotics suppress sensitive populations of bacteria in the intestines. It has been estimated that as much as 6 per cent of the net energy in the pig diet could be lost due to microbial fermentation in the intestine (Jensen, 1998). If the microbial population could be better controlled, it is possible that the lost energy could be diverted to growth.

          Thomke & Elwinger (1998) hypothesize that cytokines released during the immune response may also stimulate the release of catabolic hormones, which would reduce muscle mass. Therefore a reduction in gastrointestinal infections would result in the subsequent increase in muscle weight. Whatever the mechanism of action, the result of the use of growth promoters is an improvement in daily growth rates between 1 and 10 per cent resulting in meat of a better quality, with less fat and increased protein content. There can be no doubt that growth promoters are effective; Prescott & Baggot (1993), however, showed that the effects of growth promoters were much more noticeable in sick animals and those housed in cramped, unhygienic conditions.

          Note that last sentence: these drugs minimize the financial drawbacks of the animal concentration camps known as CAFOs.

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