Drug resistant bacteria: The bad kind of ‘bugs’

There was an article today on the BBC telling us that drug resistant infections will kill more people than cancer in 2050.

Part of the reason for this increase is the over use of antibiotics for both humans and animals.

A team of researchers are discussing what can be done to prevent catastrophe in the coming years. Their response was to look at:

  • how drug use could be changed to reduce the rise of resistance
  • how to boost the development of new drugs
  • the need for coherent international action concerning drug use in humans and animals

Antibiotics are widely given to farm animals as a preventative measure. This helps to keep our animals healthy and the price of meat low. But are our farming practices contributing to the rise in drug resistant bacteria?

As mentioned in my last post, there is no need for antibiotics in insect farming. If we could encourage a change in meat consumption habits, perhaps we could slow the bacteria problem, giving scientists more time to develop new or better drugs.

Interestingly, the problem is a global one; we are a species that travels internationally, so resistant bacteria in one part of the world can easily spread to somewhere entirely new. If a change in food choice is part of the solution, then the problem remains that cattle will inevitably be intensively farmed and pumped with antibiotics in a different part of the world. As with many of life’s problems, there is never one simple solution!