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Superbugs a threat to industrial farming: World Animal Protection

Almost three-quarters of the world's antibiotics are used in animals

October 16, 2020  by CM Staff

Pigs are one of the most intensively farmed animals on the planet.
Photo credit: World Animal Protection, Undisclosed location: Latin America
Date: 21/08/2019 (World Animal Protection)

TORONTO — The rise of superbugs from industrial farming is presenting a danger to public health worldwide according to the World Animal Protection.

On Oct. 16, the World Animal Protection released a report released that shows superbugs are emerging on farms from antibiotic overuse and those antibiotic resistant bacteria are entering our food chain and our environment. Almost three-quarters of the world’s antibiotics are used in animals, the majority on industrial farms.

According to the report, when superbugs are passed from animals to people, they make us less able to fight disease. The report states that 700,000 people die each year from infections that cannot be treated by antibiotics. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is one of the top 10 global public health threats.

Last year, a study from the Council of Canadian Academies warned of the potential rise in the percentage of bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotic treatments. The report said that overuse of antibiotics on farm animals raised for food contributes to this.

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One solution to help stop the superbug crisis, would be to keep farm animals in higher welfare, healthier conditions, to promote stronger immunity and better resilience. Some of these farms exist in Canada, but not enough. And with the current pandemic on everyone’s mind, there is growing concern of when and how the next pandemic will come. Previous outbreaks such as Avian Flu and swine flu emerged from farm animals.

A recent poll shows that 4 out of 5 people surveyed across 15 countries, including Canada, are concerned that the next pandemic could come from farm animals.

Overall poll results showed that:

  • 4 out of 5 would refuse to shop with retailers that don’t ensure animals are treated well and antibiotics are used responsibly.
  • 75% of Canadians are concerned about the possibility of a pandemic originating from farm animals.
  • 82% of Canadians believe antibiotics should only be used to treat sick animals.

“The government needs to implement stricter laws to reduce the use of antibiotics in farming. And improve on its reporting and monitoring of antibiotic usage on farm animals,” said Lynn Kavanagh, Farm Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection, in a prepared statement. “Having higher welfare standards on farms would help to lessen the need to use antibiotics in the first place. The government should also be supporting farmers to make a transition to higher welfare and more sustainable farming practices.”


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