Green News: Can Organic Farming Reduce Antibiotic Resistance?

13 08 2011

Those of us who ascribe to a green lifestyle already know that this choice is in the interest of a wide variety of concerns, not strictly environmental ones. Living green also has a huge impact on our health. It is vitally important to pay attention to these matters, as so often the general public isn’t informed of developments surrounding their own health.

A recent study has shown that purchasing organic meats and other products can decrease the risk of resistance to antibiotics. From The Examiner:

Organic poultry farms that don’t use antibiotics have significantly lower levels of drug-resistant bacteria that can potentially spread to humans. That’s according to a new study which is the first to demonstrate lower levels of drug-resistant bacteria on newly organic farms. The research adds to the growing concern among health experts about germs becoming resistant to many commonly used antibiotics.

More than 100,000 people die every year from bacterial infections, 70 percent of which are resistant to antibiotics. The Food and Drug Administration estimates farmers use 29 million pounds of antibiotics every year on food producing animals, that’s 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. Bacteria resistant to antibiotics can reach humans through food and the environment, like water contaminated with runoff.

The new study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, measured the impact of removing antibiotics from poultry farms by looking at 10 conventional and 10 newly organic large-scale poultry houses. They tested for the presence of enterococci bacteria in poultry litter, feed and water and tested its resistance to 17 common antimicrobials. Researchers say 67 percent of the bacteria recovered at conventional farms were resistant to erythromycin, a commonly used drug used to treat infections in humans. That compares to just 18 percent from the organic farms.

How important is it to you to be a green grocery shopper? If you aren’t already choosing organic products, what is the reason? Do you have any ideas for readers who may struggle to find organic products in their locals stores?



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