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Can We Avoid an Antibiotic Apocalypse?



Now, some 70 years after their advent, antibiotics are starting to fail with disturbing regularity.

Each year, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) — a particularly nasty and highly-adaptable strain — causes at least seven million primary-care and ER visits, infects hundreds of thousands of people, and kills 19,000. Biologist Maryn McKenna describes it a “wily, infinitely adaptable bacterium” — a bug that, owing to its millennia of evolutionary history with us, “bristles with defenses against our immune systems.”​
So what will happen when the drugs stop working? The Guardian’s Sarah Boseley explains:

Transplant surgery becomes virtually impossible. Organ recipients have to take immune-suppressing drugs for life to stop rejection of a new heart or kidney. Their immune systems cannot fight off life-threatening infections without antibiotics.
There’s also the use of antibiotics in livestock to consider. These drugs are not used to heal animals, but rather to make them grow faster and suppress diseases. In many parts of the world, more than 50% in tonnage of all antimicrobial production is used in food-producing animals. Two years ago, 30 million pounds of antibiotics were used for livestock — that’s 80% of all sales. And it’s a number that’s still growing.​
...the FDA monitors antibiotics used to treat livestock animals — but they know virtually nothing about them. This means we only a vague idea of how 80% of our antibiotics are being used.

“We need to know more about the use of antibiotics in the production of our meat and poultry,” says Kessler. “The results could be a matter of life and death.”​

(io9.com)
 

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So, we die. So what?

Who promised us immortality?

PS: I didn't know that peanuts in the shell had tendrils?
 

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:clap::clap: Good Post CM

Growing animals on the premiss that healthy animals need antibiotics to make a buck is plain foolish.

To expire young as a result of wasting a resource, like antibiotics, is to squander a precious gift. To do it in the name of the all mighty dollar is plain foolish and false economy.

When you die the rich person takes nothing more beyond the grave than the poor person.

What's the point of scraping for the last penny?

Death is one issue however having parts lopped off or suffering all the way to your death, is a whole other matter. Seems pointless that people should die with respect to having a steer add a little weight a little faster.
 

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Growing animals on the premiss that healthy animals need antibiotics to make a buck is plain foolish.
Healthy animals being fed a reasonable diet and being housed at a reasonable density will not need antibiotics. However, such practises are much less profitable than factory farming and feedlots, so the animals we eat for food are raised under excruciatingly inhumane conditions, and conditions that require they be chronically dosed with antibiotics in order to keep the diseases that would otherwise kill them under control long enough for them to be slaughtered.


Unfortunately, the inexcusable (but highly profitable) practises of agribusiness is only one of many selective pressures driving the evolution of antibiotic resistance. Our own rapidly increasing population and application of antibiotics in the treatment of human disease is probably the most significant, and one that we aren't likely to curtail.

As always, the ultimate solution is the reduction of the human population; if we don't control our own numbers by limiting fertility, nature will do it for us with it's old and inevitable tools (war, famine, plague, etc.).
 

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As always, the ultimate solution is the reduction of the human population; if we don't control our own numbers by limiting fertility, nature will do it for us with it's old and inevitable tools (war, famine, plague, etc.).
Nature does not care what our population is. Nature is not looking for "a solution."
 

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As always, the ultimate solution is the reduction of the human population; if we don't control our own numbers by limiting fertility, nature will do it for us with it's old and inevitable tools (war, famine, plague, etc.).
Ah, good old Conquest, War, Famine and Death.

Good times.
 

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I agree, it is possible to avoid the catastrophe the free market is driving us toward, but I'm curious as to how you would avoid it.

The evolution of antibiotic resistance bacteria (or pesticide resistant insects, or many other examples) is a classic example of a tragedy of the commons. This is ultimately an economic trap, and the free market has no solution for it. The only solutions I've ever seen work are when outside forces (governments) legislate and enforce changes in business practices. Businesses inevitably howl about how the government is over-regulating them and damaging their competitiveness (which may be true), but it does seem rather important to remember that the government's job is to serve its citizens, not to ensure the profitability of corporations.
 

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I agree, it is possible to avoid the catastrophe the free market is driving us toward, but I'm curious as to how you would avoid it.

The evolution of antibiotic resistance bacteria (or pesticide resistant insects, or many other examples) is a classic example of a tragedy of the commons. This is ultimately an economic trap, and the free market has no solution for it. The only solutions I've ever seen work are when outside forces (governments) legislate and enforce changes in business practices. Businesses inevitably howl about how the government is over-regulating them and damaging their competitiveness (which may be true), but it does seem rather important to remember that the government's job is to serve its citizens, not to ensure the profitability of corporations.
Government doctors overprescribe antibiotics in humans. I could get a bottle this afternoon, simply by describing false symptoms to my doctor and going to Shoppers Drug Mart to pick it up. Doctors give people antibiotics for viruses, simply because patients demand them.

So calling this a "free market" problem is simply an example of muddled thinking that does nothing to solve the problem. Unless new antibiotics are developed, resistance was always going to be a problem, later rather than sooner.

Development of viral proteins, bacteriophage, probiotics and cationic peptides should hold us for awhile. Nanotechnology will save us in the end.

Government must also realize that it has distorted the profit chain for drug companies. Launching a new drug is now so onerous and expensive that these companies are searching only for low-hanging fruit.Governments need to ensure that the profit motive will encourage them to deliver new antibiotics and all of the above, without fear that the investment will prove worthless. Much of that research will continue to be farmed out to universities, etc.
 
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