Antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ are perhaps one of the scariest byproducts of our modern lifestyle and society. The gist of it is, bacteria, like any living organism, evolves to survive in its environment. When exposed to antibiotics, some bacteria may have traits or mutations that help them survive longer than others; this can be passed on to future generations if they survive. Over time and with more exposure to antibiotics, they can grow stronger and stronger. NDM-1 is a new bug in the wild that appears resistant to ALL antibiotics, MRSA is another (though MRSA can still be treated, to some extent). Antibiotic use in cattle is believed to be a big cause of the creation of superbugs like these, so it’s a bit of a surprise lately that the FDA announced it will no longer regulate the use of antibiotics in cattle! This is in spite of studies showing a large percentage of meat samples (~50%) had MRSA. A letter from a group of medical and health professionals stated,
The evidence is so strong of a link between misuse of antibiotics in food animals and human antibiotic resistance that FDA and Congress should be acting much more boldly and urgently to protect these vital drugs for human illness.
The issue is serious enough that there’s even a lawsuit against the FDA, claiming the agency is not doing enough about this health threat.
If you care about issues like these, go read the full article at the New York Times for yourself. This issue is not confined to the FDA or cattle, this is about the use of antibiotics globally. We’d be fools to expect human behavior to change enough to eliminate this problem; rather, we need to recognize the changes we are creating in our environment, and pursue technologies that can help alleviate the problem we’re creating.