Global increase in antibiotic resistance in livestock farming

The global increase in antibiotic resistance in livestock farming

To date, discussions on the increased use of antibiotics in agriculture have increasingly been held in industrialised countries. In particular in centres of mass livestock farming. So far, there was no global consideration of developments in emerging and developing countries.

Now, a research team from ETH Zurich, the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), and the Free University of Brussels has published a new paper. This paper highlights the extent of antibiotic resistance in livestock farming. For this purpose, 1000 scientific articles and veterinary reports were analysed and evaluated.

The result shows that between 2000 and 2018 there was an increase in the number of antibiotics with resistances of over 50% (P50) in developing countries. In chickens, there was an increase from 0.15 to 0.41 and in pigs from 0.13 to 0.34. This means that antibiotics used in 40% of chickens and about 33% of pigs fail in more than half the cases.

Hotspots of these resistances are the regions in the northeast of India and China. But also the north of Pakistan, Iran, the east of Turkey are affected. Further is the south coast of Brazil, the delta of the red river in Vietnam and the surroundings around Johannesburg and Mexico City. Also, there are further regions e.g. in Kenya, Morocco or Uruguay. In these regions, there is likewise a significant increase in antibiotic resistance.

The rise in resistance in livestock farming is also accompanied by the increasing consumption of animal proteins in those regions. The researchers recommend taking immediate action to counteract rising consumption and resistance. In particular, they warn that antibiotics for humans will continue to be used in mass livestock farming. Unfortunately, this also increases the risk for humans that vital antibiotics will no longer work.