Antibiotics in Agriculture Impacting Microbes in Soil

The use of antibiotics in raising livestock is widespread, so much so that it’s added as a growth promoter to the drinking water of many animals. As a result of overuse, the antibiotics are excreted from these animals in manure and urine, which results in the deposit of antibiotics into the soil. A recent study published in the Public Library of Sciences ONE journal revealed that the repeated application of one particular antibiotic, sulfadiazine, resulted in a decrease in the diversity of soil microbes along with an increase in harmful microbes.

“This means a loss of fertility and, thus, in the long run, a decline in crop yields,” noted Michael Schloter, PhD, lead researcher. He also commented on the increase in harmful bacteria, saying “The increase in human pathogenic microorganisms in the environment has wide-reaching consequences for human health.”

It is crystal clear that antibiotics are being overused, and that overuse has grave implications for our health. Antibiotics in personal care products, antibiotics in agriculture, antibiotic prescriptions for every little sniffle—all of these uses for antibiotics contribute to the development of pathogens more dangerous than the original bugs we sought treat in the first place. Schloter summed it up nicely when he said, “We must therefore urgently develop a new mindset as regards the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry.”

In the meantime, if you eat meat or dairy, opt for those brands that do not use antibiotics to help keep antibiotics out of our soils.

 

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