Antibiotics in Agriculture:

Since decades, antibiotics have always been a life saver for Humans. However, its excessive use in foods substances of animal as well as in soil containing manure for cultivation of plant puts a question mark on further existence of Human beings. The concerns regarding the use of antibiotics in animal as well as agriculture industry is taken up rapidly by the society.

Agricultural Importance of Antibiotics:

Antibiotics in livestock finds its importance since more than 30 years because of its ability to increase the production of meat, milk, egg, and other food substance to higher levels in term of quality and quantity. It supports disease prevention and medicating diseased animals. It also support fish farms and ornamental plant farming. Regular use of antibiotics in livestock elevates the production of vegetables such as potatoes and carrots.

Antibiotics in Agricultural Plants:

Scientists and researchers from the University of Minnesota have indulge themselves in evaluating the impact of antibiotic feeding in livestock production on the environment. The main objective of the evaluation was to know weather food crops really accumulate antibiotics from soil spread with manure that contain antibiotics.

In order to prove the presence of antibiotics in plant grown in soil containing manure mixed with antibiotics, researcher took three crops such as corn, lettuce, and potato. These crops were grown under greenhouse condition and on soil containing liquid hog manure with Sulfamethazine (commonly used veterinary antibiotic) mixed in it. After few days, researchers were surprised when they found that all the three crops were loaded with Sulfamethazine and were seen in almost all parts of the plant. In order to confirm the evaluation, researchers altered the concentration of antibiotics present in the manure. The concentration of the antibiotic in the tissue increases with the increase and decreases with the decrease in the concentration of the antibiotic in the soil. Researcher also located high concentration of antibiotic inside potato tubers which shows that root crops such as potatoes, carrot, and radishes which directly comes in contact with the soil may be highly susceptible to antibiotic contamination.

Plants ability to soak antibiotics arouse the threat of human food contamination. As per Satish Gupta, Group leader “The adverse effects of consuming plants containing minimal level of antibiotics are largely unknown”. According to him the consumption of plant containing antibiotic may show allergic reactions in sensitive populations, such as young children. Due to regular intake of antibiotic contaminated plant food substance, the person may develop antimicrobial resistance that can render antibiotics ineffective.

Impact of Antibiotic Resistance in Human beings:

It is been estimated that more than 50% of the total antibiotic produced world wide is used in agriculture than in human medicine. The first antibiotic, Penicillin, was discovered in the year 1929 by Sir Alexander Fleming was capable of treating bacterial infections caused by Staphylococcus and Streptococci in humans. Excessive use of Penicillin in 1940’s overshadowed its antibacterial property. At present 95% of the Staphylococcus Aureus isolated globally are resistant to Penicillin. Antibiotic resistance by microbes leads to serious consequences such as prolonged illness with greater risk leading to death, longer periods of hospitalization, and infections which increases the number of infected people moving in the community.

Public Health Concern:

  • More expensive antibiotics required
  • Prolonged illness with greater risk of death
  • Development of new antibiotics is slow and costly
  • Longer stay in hospital leading to increased healthcare cost
  • Greater risk of antibiotic resistant food borne illness (Salmonella DT-104, fluoroquinilone resistant Campylobacter)

Looking at the harmful impact of antibiotic resistance, WHO along with other organizations such as AMA, APHA, CSTE, American College of Preventive Medicine, Institute of Medicine, and EU had recommended ban and also form a strict regulation of antibiotic use in edible crops or plants food animals.

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