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  • 24 November, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Food-Animal Farming and Antimicrobial Resistance

Food-Animal Farming and Antimicrobial Resistance

  • Animal health issues in factory farming have a severe impact on food safety, the environment, and the climate, which can result in antibiotic resistance (AMR).
  • Farming of pigs, cows, and birds in close quarters is known as factory farming or intensive food-animal farming.
  • These are industrial settings where numerous animals are raised in enormous numbers, primarily indoors, in circumstances designed to maximize output at the lowest possible cost.

What Problems Exist?

  • Too frequently, the suffering of animals on farms around the world is disregarded or perceived as unrelated to major problems like pandemics and the public health crisis, climate change and the loss of biodiversity, food insecurity and starvation.
  • Actually, this has the potential to worsen world issues and cruelly treat billions of animals.
  • Using breeds of genetically identical animals crowded together to produce more than 50 billion factory-farmed land animals annually to meet the growing demand for affordable meat results in an ideal breeding ground for diseases that can spread to humans.
  • When illnesses spread from one species to another, they frequently grow more contagious, produce more severe illness and mortality, and trigger pandemics that affect the entire world.
  • Two prominent examples of how new strains frequently appear from intensively farmed animals are bird flu and swine flu.
  • Antimicrobial Resistance, which is disregarded among these major challenges, is a new addition to the list.
  • Antibiotic misuse on industrial farms creates superbugs that spread to the environment, the workers, and the food chain.
  • AMR as well as a number of zoonotic infections are linked to the advent of factory farms, which are characterised by inadequate animal welfare standards and subpar husbandry techniques.

How common is AMR in India, and what does it mean?

  • Any microorganism (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, etc.) can develop AMR, or antimicrobial drug resistance, to the antimicrobial medications that are used to treat infections.
  • It happens when a microorganism mutates and stops responding to medication over time, making infections more difficult to cure and raising the risk of disease spread, life-threatening sickness, and death.
  • AMR is one of the top 10 health concerns, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Every year, more than 56,000 newborn babies in India pass away from sepsis brought on by bacteria that are resistant to first-line treatments.
  • According to a study conducted by the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) at 10 hospitals, the mortality rate for Covid patients who get infections that are resistant to treatment is close to 50–60%.
  • This area gave rise to the multi-drug resistance gene known as New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1).
  • Multi-drug resistant typhoid from South Asia has also spread to other regions of Asia, Africa, and Europe.

What actions has the government done to prevent AMR?

  • The AMR Surveillance and Research Network (AMRSN) was established in 2013 to collect data on drug-resistant illnesses throughout the nation and to identify trends and patterns.
  • The National Action Plan on AMR, which was introduced in April 2017 with the intention of involving multiple stakeholder ministries/departments, focuses on the One Health concept.
  • In 2017, the ICMR and the Research Council of Norway (RCN) launched a combined call for antimicrobial resistance research.
  • A combined Indo-German collaboration for AMR research exists between ICMR and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany.
  • To prevent the abuse and overuse of antibiotics in hospital wards and intensive care units (ICUs), the ICMR has launched the Antibiotic Stewardship Program (AMSP) as a pilot project across India.

Way Forward

  • Increasing the demand for plant-based meals will help reduce dependency on farmed animals and make higher welfare production systems more practical, such as those with more space, fewer antibiotics, healthier growth, and more natural surroundings. This will help create sustainable food systems.
  • The food system needs to be changed in order to be more environmentally friendly and dramatically enhance both human and animal health.

Source: Down To Earth

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