There is growing evidence that the increasing use of antibiotics in the world could be posing serious health risks to humans. The unnecessary and overuse of antibiotics leech into the food supply which makes it impossible for people to recover from many different strains of bacteria that were once easily curable. A large sum of the source of this problem begins in the GMO industry, as well as the meat and dairy industries.
The GMO (genetically modified organisms) industry uses antibiotics in many of their experiments with food. When a GMO company elects to modify a plant, they have to inject or insert foreign genes and/or DNA into the biological structure of that organism. This does not always work; meaning the given organism does not always accept this foreign matter into its body. The subjects are all injected with an antibiotic-resistant strain and then given antibiotics. The ones that survive become evidence for which organisms have embraced the changes and which have not. In this sense, antibiotics are known as “markers” in the GMO industry, gauging how much of their work is taking effect. These antibiotics stay in the final produced crops of food that these industries put in markets for human consumption.
This is dangerous for many reasons; one of them being that the foreign genes can mix with other genes in the organism to produce new pathogens that could potentially and seriously harm living things, including of course humans. On top of it, the new prospective pathogens would likely be resistant to antibiotics because of their overuse in such experiments, making these new genes even more dangerous to living beings because there would be no drugs to kill them.
A recent study in Britain showed that 43 percent of humans who ate genetically modified soy had shown what is referred to as “DNA gene transfer” in the natural, a healthy bacterium that is already present in their digestive systems. This basically means that eating this laboratory produced, antibiotic-pumped food changed their natural bacteria permanently, which poses serious risks to human health. Because the genes are antibiotic resistant and they transfer, or merge, with genes already present in human bodies, it creates an environment in the digestive system that is also resistant to antibiotics. This makes it impossible for bodies to fight infection.
Industries that produce animal products are large contributors to the overuse of antibiotics as well. For over 60 years, antibiotics have been used in the food supply for livestock on industrial farms after it was discovered that doing so triggered the animals to gain weight more proficiently, which of course resulted in much larger profits for the people responsible for producing these foods. Antibiotics are also used to keep the animals from getting sick, as they are born and raised in such utterly unclean environments. According to the Food and Drug Administration, 80 percent of all the antibiotics used in the US are served to farm animals. Only 25 percent of these are digested by the animal, which means the drugs are excreted in their milk as well as their waste, which becomes manure for fruits and vegetables, and food for humans. These are some major ways in which people are in danger for overly consuming antibiotics and thus, becoming more and more resistant to their benefits.
While manure is used on foods and in their soils while growing, it can come into contact with new bacteria, which can create a plethora of strains resistant to the antibiotics present in the manure. This works the same way that pests become resistant to pesticides as those industries develop more and more chemicals to kill them. Thus, not only are the antibiotics already present in the manure ingested by humans, but the antibiotic-resistant bacteria are also capable of being consumed by humans, which causes the same problems mentioned in the British study with GM soy. Additionally, manure leeches into groundwater and is vulnerable to insects, both of which reach the human body and make people more susceptible to contact with these antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant organisms. So even if a person is vegetarian, he or she would have a difficult time avoiding the ingestion of such drugs and genes that can seriously harm their bodies and health.
Health care expenses related to antibiotic-resistant microorganisms surpass $4 billion dollars a year in America, according to The National Academy of Sciences. As stated by the World Health Organization, at the rate that antibiotics are being used and resistant organisms produced, people in this world may very likely face serious health risks and death from common unassuming bacteria that was once very easily controlled. This could certainly and likely be the reality of the future humans await.
By Stevie Paul
Institute for Responsible Technology
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Organic Consumers Association