Antibiotics use by India’s poultry farms endangering human lives, says expert

This Article, taken from The Hindustan Times, proves the harms which are done to our health by eating Broiler Chicken.  Link to the actual article is here.

A study has found rampant misuse of antibiotics in Indian poultry farms, endangering the health of people. (HT File Photo)

Antibiotics are being routinely administered to chickens on Indian poultry farms in small doses to promote growth and keep disease at bay, almost as a replacement for nutrition and sanitation, says a new study led by Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, Washington DC and New Delhi. The study has been published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Twelve of the 18 farms studied, or 67%, reported the use of antimicrobials as growth boosters. Tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones, antibiotics commonly used to treat cholera, malaria, respiratory and urinary tract infections in humans, were the most commonly used antimicrobials, with nine farms admitting their use.

This has serious implications for India — already the world’s biggest consumer of antibiotics for human use—and the world because it contributes to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotics fascinate Laxminarayan because they “underpin our modern healthcare system”, he said. As someone who has dedicated himself to the understanding of drug resistance as a problem of managing a shared global resource, he found the lack of awareness about antibiotics in India appalling. Consumers in India, it would seem, are largely indifferent to the circumstances in which their butter chicken is bred.

In an interview to IndiaSpend, Laxminarayan talked of the consumer’s role in reforming the poultry industry, particularly because of the fast-growing popularity of chicken in India and a 312% antibiotic-use increase projected for livestock.

Ramanan Laxminarayan is the director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, Washington DC and New Delhi. (Photo courtesy: Indiaspend)
In India, low farmer awareness is as much a concern as low consumer awareness. In the absence of regulation, most of the poultry feed available in the market is medicated. But the majority of the farmers we surveyed reported being unaware of the presence of antibiotic growth promoters premixed in chicken feed purchased from feed mills. Some farmers are genuinely unaware of the potential harm from using antibiotics as growth promoters. One farmer noted that antimicrobials were more effective than hygiene or sanitation measures because the labour on poultry farms is unskilled. Of course, this is an excuse to continue misusing antibiotics. India saw demonetisation happen overnight. If a similar will is exercised by the state and central governments to check the rampant misuse of antibiotics, we could see great change happen soon.

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