Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria from Chicken Farming May Be Polluting the Environment
Some of the main dangers of commercial meat and animal farming today is linked to the use of antibiotics. Such drugs are used to fight illness in the animals, which are almost always raised in unhygienic and overcrowded conditions.
Besides the fact that most of us consume such meats, the following article outlines another way in which the toxins resulting from such farming practices may be making their way into our lives.
by Reuben Chow
Chickens which are raised commercially for meat are nowadays fed antibiotics to fend off infections and illnesses. This is a practice which is criticized in many quarters because it can encourage bacteria to mutate and become drug-resistant. In the long run, this could pose a health risk to human beings. And a recent study conducted by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that trucks carrying chickens to processing facilities could be releasing more than just chicken odor – they could be leaving a trail of potentially harmful bacteria in the air.
The study team had tailed ten poultry trucks on US 13, down the Delmarva Peninsula, in the summer and autumn of 2007. Turning off their air conditioning and winding down their windows, the researchers followed about two to three car lengths behind the vehicles.
The not so good news is that the study team collected increased levels of bacteria both in and on their car. And this included certain bacteria which were resistant to antibiotics used on humans. When they drove on the same roads again while the chicken trucks were not around, they did not find the bacteria.
The National Chicken Council, not unexpectedly, reacted unhappily, calling the study “unfocused, unrealistic and rather unsafe”. Steve Pretanik, director of science and technology of the organization, also criticized the research team for “tailgating” the chicken vehicles, arguing that not many motorists would follow that closely behind the trucks anyway.
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