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Antibiotics in Livestock Farming and the Risk of Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics play a crucial role in combating bacterial infections in both humans and animals. They are natural or synthetic substances used to destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics target various essential processes in bacteria, such as disrupting protective envelopes, inhibiting chemical reactions, or preventing protein synthesis. However, their use in livestock farming raises concerns about antibiotic resistance. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of antibiotics, their use in veterinary medicine, the emergence of antibiotic resistance, and measures taken to address this issue.

Antibiotics in Veterinary Medicine

Antibiotics are commonly used in veterinary medicine to treat bacterial infections in animals, ensuring their well-being and the production of safe food products. However, it is important to note that antibiotics have no effect on viral infections, highlighting the importance of appropriate use.

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria become resistant to the drugs administered, rendering the treatment ineffective. Misuse of antibiotics, including inappropriate treatment, early discontinuation, low dosages, and overconsumption, contributes to the rise of resistant bacteria. Resistance can be natural or acquired through chromosomal mutation or the exchange of genetic carriers between bacteria.  Humans, as well as their pets and their livestock can be breeding grounds for resistant bacteria.

The concept of "one health" recognizes that humans and animals share the same environment and antibiotics, making their health interconnected. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses a significant risk to public health, affecting food production and potentially transmitting resistance to humans.

Monitoring and Control Measures

To ensure consumer safety, antibiotic residues in meat and milk are carefully regulated through withdrawal periods. Measures are also taken to minimize the discharge and environmental impact of antibiotics excreted by treated animals. Prescriptions by veterinarians, emphasis on prevention, and responsible antibiotic use help control antibiotic quantities. National and international monitoring programs play a crucial role in detecting antibiotic-resistant bacteria and ensuring food safety.

For example in France, the Ecoantibio plan is an initiative aimed at reducing antibiotic use in veterinary medicine by 25% over five years. This plan has led to significant progress and aligns with international recommendations, highlighting the importance of sustainable practices in antibiotic use.

Conclusion:

Essential for keeping organism healthy, the use of antibiotics in livestock farming carries risks, particularly the development of antibiotic resistance. To mitigate this threat, responsible antibiotic use, prevention strategies, surveillance programs, and international cooperation are essential. Sustainable efforts aim to reduce antibiotic usage while ensuring the health and welfare of animals and humans alike.

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The Evolution of Domestication: From Opportunistic Hunting to Animal Husbandry

In the journey of human evolution, opportunism has played a crucial role, leading to our strength and adaptability as a species. This opportunistic nature is evident not only in Homo sapiens but also in other hominids. From prehistoric hunters in tundras to those dwelling in Mediterranean regions, dietary choices were shaped by available resources. The shift from a predatory relationship with animals to domestication marked a significant turning point in human history, altering not only how we procure and consume food but also the structure of society.

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