3:16 pm - Monday January 19, 3553

Chickens Are Being Fed Antibiotics In India, And Harming Our Health Badly

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In India, one-third of the population is vegetarian, and many people who do eat non-vegetarian food don’t eat beef, or pork, or both, making chicken the most popularly consumed meat here. According to a report by Bloomberg, consumption of chicken has multiplied 14 times since 1985!

Broiler companies are giving farmers antibiotics for the chickens. The Bloomberg report claims that SR Group, a broiler company, gives farmers chicks to raise, and then buys them back when they are ready for slaughter. Along with the chicks, the broiler company allegedly also gives the farmers chicken feed and antibiotics for the chickens.

These antibiotics are harmful because they are promoting antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria and therefore help us fight bacterial infections. From battling diseases like tuberculosis to preventing infections during and after surgeries, antibiotics are crucial to saving lives. Without them, everything from a simple hip replacement surgery to an organ transplant could be fatal.

“The rise of antibiotic resistance is a global health crisis. More and more governments recognise (it as) one of the greatest threats to health today,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO. She warned that if left unchecked, drug resistance “will mean the end of modern medicine as we know it.”
In the report, the WHO urges doctors around the world to use antibiotics sparingly and prescribe them only when absolutely necessary. However, it seems like chicken farmers in India are doing the exact opposite!

Some of the antibiotics used in India are not approved for poultry in the U.S., Canada, E.U. and Australia.
According to the Bloomberg report, SR Group is directing farmers to give chickens anywhere from three to five antibiotics over six weeks, starting from the day the chicks are delivered! These drugs are supposedly added to the birds’ drinking water. One of these antibiotics is the only cure for extremely dangerous bloodstream infections in human beings. (Imagine if the antibiotic is no longer effective, how many people will die because we don’t have a cure for these deadly infections!) Out of the five antibiotics allegedly being given to the chickens, while all of them are legal in India, two of them are banned or not approved for use in the U.S., Canada, European Union and Australia.

Globally, animals consume more antibiotics than humans, and it is believed that by 2030, animal consumption of antibiotics will increase by 67%. Most of this antibiotic consumption is predicted to be in developing countries like India, China and Brazil, as these countries are increasing livestock production to meet global demands.
“We have to use more medicines these days,” said G. Bal Reddy, an Indian farmer. “Diseases have become harder to beat in the last two to three years.”Thousands of people are already dying, in India especially.
The Indian government doesn’t keep data on the number of deaths caused due to antibiotic resistance, but a study by researcher Ramanan Laxminarayan estimates that 58,000 newborn babies died in 2003 in India due to bacterial infections that cannot be treated by antibiotics. Microbiologists in Telengana studying the spread of bacteria in hospitals found that 6.7% of bacteria were resistant to all antibiotics.

According to Laxminarayan, India has the highest rate of antibiotic resistance in the world! We don’t have regulations that govern the use of antibiotics in livestock and antibiotics can easily be procured without prescriptions, making it hard to control their use.

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