Data Missing on Farm Use of Antibiotics; Health Study Hindered

September 5, 2012

One of the fastest-growing worries in the environmental health arena is the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which some researchers estimate kill 40,000 people yearly in the US alone. The Centers for Disease Control acknowledges that indiscriminate feeding of antibiotics to livestock worsens the problem.

A new report by Sabrina Tavernise in the New York Times points out that basic data about the routine use of antibiotics in farm animals (which consume some 80 percent of the nation's antibiotics) is largely missing. "Scientists say the blank spots in data collection are a serious handicap in taking on powerful producers of poultry and meat who claim the link does not exist," Tavernise reports.