Antibiotics in China’s livestock: widely used and largely unmonitored. A new study out today in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences tested manure, compost and soil at three large-scale commercial hog farms in China (10,000+ pigs), finding not only antibiotic residues but widespread antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In fact, bacteria tested showed resistance to every major class of antibiotics – even to drugs not used on that particular farm.
Half of all the world’s pigs are in China, a testament to the country’s growing demand for pork says NPR. Farmers are increasingly relying on antibiotics to make the animals grow faster and prevent disease, a practice common in countries around the world, including the US.
“We’re not trying to single out the Chinese here. This is a global problem,” said James Tiedje, a microbiologist from Michigan State University who joined the team of Chinese researchers for the project.
And much like other countries, what happens on the farm doesn’t stay on the farm – and it can impact human health. Said a press release on the study, “Manure, compost, or soil containing antibiotic-resistant bacteria could thwart the efficacy of human antibiotic therapies if it runs off into rivers, leaches into groundwater, is dispersed as dust, or if composted manure is distributed as organic fertilizer, according to the authors.”