POULTRY FARMING: A Human Disaster In Making
With increased per capita Income in urban areas, the world’s appetite for meat continues to grow. The marketing countries keep gaining a larger share of the economic pie from this boom and the trend is likely to continue.
But the meat humans devour, can it be called healthy for mankind?
The introduction of antibiotics into the field of poultry farming was primarily intended for treatment of any diagnosed illness among the broilers and layers control any outbreaks: since the intensively factory-farmed poultry birds share very little space, food and water troughs that leads to spread of diseases.
But during last few decades, the use of antibiotics rapidly shifted gears as their role in GROWTH PROMOTION is discovered. These antibiotics are found to destroy certain bacteria in the gut and help poultry convert the feed into muscle more quickly causing more rapid growth. This kind of rampant antibiotics use- is a subject of controversy and scrutiny.
Today, a poultry bird’s weight at slaughterhouse is twice that of what it was 70 years ago. The physiology of growing muscle protein and development of bone growth are completely altered due to selective breeding, steroids and antibiotics. Bone development is ignored which leads to poor bone marrow where the disease fighting immunoglobulin cells originate. Even eggs and hatchlings are not free from the Antibiotic menace. Hypodermic needles are used to inject a mix of vaccines and antibiotics into the eggs, three days before hatching.
50 Billion birds are consumed every year, world over. In US alone, 15,400 tons of antibiotics which is 80% of total antibiotics produced, goes to the livestock production. The antibiotics such as Tetracycline, Streptomycin, Salinomycin, Tilmicosin, Florofenicol are used as growth boosters, so that chicken can gain double the weight, in half the time.
Poultry birds receive antibiotics in their feed, water and injections which creates antibiotic resistant bacteria in the gut. Poultry birds in India are injected with one of the strongest Antibiotics. Studies conducted revealed, hatcheries around Hyderabad are pumped with Colistin. The WHO calls Colistin, “critically important to human medicine“, but does not encourage it’s usage as‘growth promoter’.
The resistant bacteria spread all over the environment through soil, water and theseantibiotic resistant ‘SUPERBUGS’ finally end up in every water body and sea shore. Eating poultry meat and eggs brings the antibiotic resistant bacteria into our gut and decrease our immunity. It is also important to know that bacteria on the farm suspended in the air or on farm worker’s feet can also spread the deadly pathogens.
Consequently, humans become resistant to the medicines that are used to fight diseases, making them highly unresponsive to any kind of medication.
The two instances of H5N1 influenza virus pandemics, including the 1918 Spanish flu killed about 60-90 Million people world over making it the deadliest natural disasters. The numerical figures are appalling, aren’t they?Who can predict what new mutated virus evolves from ‘so called’ harmless Avian Flu Virus? How can we guarantee that the superbugs that we, humans, created will not mutate within humans or other mammals and cause the greatest dangers unknown to mankind?
Cooking at high temperature de-natures the protein molecules and kills the bacteria, but that is not always the case. Cooked meat can still harbor resistant bacteria. Cooking cannot destroy viruses too. Also, heat cannot break down antibiotic residue that may have remained within the meat. Food poisoning cases linked to infected chicken, struck down 580,000 people in 2012 in UK.
The new mutations in our already immune-suppressed state can only lead to other bigger disasters. It’s like feeding a volcano and not knowing when it will burst, and it will get complicated as new viruses are released from the thawing glaciers at the poles due to global warming.
Peter Collignon, a world authority on the subject and professor of infectious diseases at Australian National University said
“We have people dying who do not need to die, because you should not be using these drugs in ‘food animals’ at all, particularly in poultry”. United Nations declared that about 70% of US chicken meat contains deadly cancer causing Arsenic. All these facts and figures cannot be swept under the carpet.
Antibiotics cannot differentiate between good and bad Bacteria. They can upset the sensitive gut flora and wipe out the good bacteria which provide good digestion and immunity. These Antibiotic resistant bacteria can transfer their resistance property to the normal bacteria present. Antibiotic overuse can lead to fatal diarrhea in children including tendonitis, inner-ear problems and hearing loss, impaired kidney function, and can cause oxidative stress that can lead to damage to DNA, proteins and lipids in human cells.
When kids eat the meat, treated with hormones, the spike in hormone levels can disrupt the development of their brain and sex organs. The hormones in meat-based diets are also blamed for the early sexual development of young girls in the Western world—nearly half of all African-American girls and 15 percent of their white peers now enter menstrual puberty at the age of 8.
And that’s just the known effects it has on children. For adults, it can have all kinds of repercussions, from hormonal imbalances, auto-immune problems, cancer, liver and kidney failure, and many more.
The consequences of rampant antibiotic use are already affecting the world. This needs the attention of the global community. We need to proactively regulate the factory farms and meat production with strong regulations, environment-friendly directives and punitive measures.
Let us not enter the post antibiotic era and make the most minor infections lethal, because that would be a shame on our ‘scientifically’ progressing humanity.