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The growth and global spread of infections resistant to almost all known antibiotics is a huge looming threat. A recent study estimates up to 10 million lives could be lost each year by 2050, with enormous economic impact. Antimicrobial resistance could reverse progress made against big global killers such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. Even common surgery could carry a lethal risk of infection. CGD work examines the incentives, innovation, and impetus needed to ensure collective action to produce a new generation of antibiotics, and encourage their widespread development and use.
Most antibiotics around the world today are fed to farm animals to promote growth and prevent diseases fostered by crowded conditions on factory farms. There is an urgent need to find alternatives to keep animals healthy, and preserve crucial antibiotics for human health. One way to do that would be to create an international treaty not to use antibiotics in livestock feed — and probiotics, like those found in yogurt, may be a stepping stone toward that goal.
It seems the era of feeding large volumes of antibiotics to chickens to promote growth and prevent disease is on its way out. Tyson Foods announced it will join fellow producers, Perdue and Pilgrim’s Pride, and large buyers, such as McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and Chipotle, in sharply reducing use in chickens of antibiotics that are also used in human medicine.
The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is catching flack for recommending that Americans consider the environmental consequences of eating so many burgers. Pointing to climate change and other environmental effects of meat production, the panel suggested Americans contemplate the broader implications when choosing what to eat.