Unlike medical doctors, veterinarians are free to sell over-the-counter antibiotics to farmers, leaving no paper trail. This situation is contributing to antibiotic resistant bacteria that mutate each time an antibiotic is used. Animals consume 90 per cent of antimicrobials sold in Canada.
There is a crucial connection between animal and human health. Most severe emerging and re-emerging diseases begin with animals. Humanity’s crusade on bacteria has changed our world. Farmers have high monetary incentives to use antibiotics, and use them for animal growth enhancement with no regulations. In 1950, chickens were slaughtered at 84 days old. Today they mature fast enough to be killed at 38 days. Barns are dirty, overcrowded breeding grounds. The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates $3.7 billion is spent annually treating food-borne illness, which affects one in eight Canadians annually.
The topic has been covered by the Globe and Mail and CBC in 2014 spring, and Canadian Press in 2013. Their coverage focus is narrow on antibiotic usage for growth promotion, but fails to mention larger, intertwined problems, which were revealed in an article appearing in The Walrus. A simple urinary tract infection will become fatal if over-reliance on antibiotics persists.
Kelly Crowe, “Health Canada’s Quiet Move to End Use of Antibiotics to Fatten up Animals.” CBC, July 9, 2014. http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/health-canada-s-quiet-move-to-end-use-of-antibiotics-to-fatten-up-animals-1.2700972
Sasha Chapman, “Antibiotics Made Modern Farming Possible. By Abusing Them, We Risk Everything.” The Walrus, February 1, 2015. http://thewalrus.ca/playing-chicken/.
Tom Blackwell, “Governments Must Address Antibiotic Use in Farming: Ontario Medical Association.” The Canadian Press, March 20, 2013, http://search.proquest.com.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/docview/1318914517?pq-origsite=summon.
Wendy Stuek, “U.S. Move Ramps up Pressure for Canadian Farmers to Curb Antibiotics.” The Globe and Mail, April 2, 2014. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/us-move-ramps-up-pressure-for-canadian-farmers-to-curb-antibiotics/article17785295/.
Student Researcher: Kendall Latimer (University of Regina)
Faculty Researcher: Patricia Elliott (University of Regina)