Some 700,000 people die from drug-resistant infections every year, and scientists warn this could reach 10 million deaths a year by 2050. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in a 76-page report – an analysis of the state of antibiotic development as of 2020 – that despite growing awareness of the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the pipeline to develop new antibiotics offers little hope to the “silent pandemic” of superbugs.
There is growing demand and urgency to create and produce new antibiotics that superbugs have already grown a tolerance to, killing roughly 700,000 a year. The UN health agency has already warned that none of the 43 antibiotics currently in clinical development “sufficiently address” rising drug resistance.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said:
“Never has the threat of antimicrobial resistance been more immediate and the need for solutions more urgent. Numerous initiatives are underway to reduce resistance, but we also need countries and the pharmaceutical industry to step up and contribute with sustainable funding and innovative new medicines.”
Sign the petition here to push for McDonald’s, the fast food giant, to move away from antibiotics in farming.
Antibiotic use in the farming sector
Antibiotic use has a major role to play in the emerging public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. To make matters worse, in some farming sectors, powerful antibiotics are pumped into animals – a complete, blatant disregard for public health.
According to Avaaz, every year 70 billion animals are raised on gruesome factory farms. Here, they are fed an antibiotic diet intended to keep them alive and grow faster, an easy, profitable shortcut for farmers. This is a horror show for the environment and animal welfare, yet a paradise for pathogens to mutate, multiply and then jump to humans.
Worldwide it is estimated that 66 percent of all antibiotics are used in farm animals, not people. This acts as a facilitator that allows animals to be kept in poor conditions where disease can spread easily. Leading authorities such as the European Medicine Agency and WHO say that the overuse of antibiotics in farming contributes to higher antibiotic resistance in some human infections.
Tell McDonald’s: ban beef antibiotics now!
The main purpose of factory farming is to produce masses of fast, cheap meat. Consequently, cattle are raised in toxic conditions, which would not be possible without huge doses of antibiotics. McDonald’s, the world’s largest beef purchaser, are currently in the process of deciding, and hopefully changing, its antibiotics policies.
To protect ourselves from another deadly pandemic, we must not only reduce meat consumption, but we must also drastically cut the use of antibiotics on farms. This could have a knock-on effect on better raising conditions for livestock across the country and around the world, directly forcing farmers to raise cattle in better, healthier conditions.
The Avaaz team said:
“The Covid pandemic has shown again how interconnected and fragile our societies really are, creating a new appreciation for nature and the ecosystems that support all life on earth. The best time to prevent the next pandemic is right now – but this is also a golden opportunity to continue our fight to reform food production, animal welfare and the rights of factory farm workers. For the world we all dream of, let’s make it happen.”
If we push McDonald’s to ban antibiotics at their farms, it could potentially shift the entire industry towards more sustainable farming – and we know how much McDonald’s care about their public image. So, if we raise our voices as a nation, we could push the meat giant to slash antibiotics and help prevent the next superbug pandemic. Sign the petition at Avaaz here.