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Overuse of antibiotics in farming

Overuse of antibiotics in farming

As the evidence mounts as to the madness of using last resort antibiotics like colistin to treat our farm animals, often via mass medication, the intensive farm and vet lobby still seems defensive and complacent. I guess it’s easy to understand why. Routine antibiotics are usually required in indoor, concrete based systems, where large numbers of animals are kept together, often stressed by their confinement. These are the systems deemed necessary for ‘efficient’ protein production, to feed us cheaply with watery bacon and tasteless chicken breasts. Vets are too often complicit; they still rely heavily on drug sales to maintain their profitability.

There is another way, of course, one that has been pioneered by organic farmers over decades. It is possible to produce our meat and dairy products with virtually no antibiotic at all, while giving farm animals the good life they deserve considering the sacrifice they make for us. If animals have a happy, contented life, with room to roam and behave naturally, if they have space, access to soil and fresh air, the right food then, surprise, they are much less likely to become unwell. If they do, their immunity is such that they will usually recover easily. And if they do need an antibiotic, it is likely to work, because the herd will not have developed resistant strains of bacteria.

I hear the cry ‘but organic food is too expensive!’, and ‘but you can’t feed the world like that!’ Such nonsense. If we ate less but organic meat, if we released our farm animals into the sunlight (while protecting them from the rain!), we could not only help to preserve effective antibiotics for human medicine, but we could improve our soils and our natural environment, generate enjoyable jobs, and enjoyable food. It may be a bit more expensive on the shelf, but what a small price to pay.

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