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Superbugs and the Ultimate Economic Weapon: Food

Superbugs and the Ultimate Economic Weapon: Food

The food-exporting superpowers are easy to identify.

As my esteemed colleague Michael Snyder chronicled in a recent Zero Hedge post, world agricultural production is under assault from extreme weather and diseases such as African swine fever. Floods & Drought Devastate Crops All Over The Planet; Is A Global Food Crisis Be Coming?

Everyone understands extreme weather is a danger to food production. The overuse of antibiotics is less well understood. As this article explains, most antibiotics are given to livestock, which then become breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant microbes, which are known as superbugsonce they develop immunity to all conventional antibiotics.

Are antibiotics turning livestock into superbug factories?

Almost 80% of all antibiotics in the United States aren’t taken by people. They’re given to cows, pigs, and chickens to make them grow more quickly or as a cheap alternative to keeping them healthy. These drugs could give rise to superbugs—bacteria that can’t be treated with modern medicine—and things are only getting worse. In 2013, more than 131,000 tons of antibiotics were used in food animals worldwide; by 2030, it will be more than 200,000 tons.

Here’s the problem with superbugs: you can’t kill them with standard-issue antibiotics. They spread like wildfire through monoculture crops and livestock yards and kill with indiscriminate alacrity.

The only solution, poor as it is, is to kill every animal that might be infected–tens of millions or hundreds of millions in the case of African swine fever.

Pigs and chickens are breeding grounds for diseases that jump the low barrier between livestock and humans. So the superbug that starts out killing animals can, with generally modest genetic modifications via variability, start infecting and killing humans with the same alacrity.

Super scary: animal agriculture linked to global ‘superbug’ threat

How industrial farming techniques can breed superbugs

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

WHO’s 2050 Prediction: 10 Million People Could Die from Mutated Superbugs And We’ll Have No Drugs to Fight Them

WHO’s 2050 Prediction: 10 Million People Could Die from Mutated Superbugs And We’ll Have No Drugs to Fight Them

The discovery and widespread use of antibiotics many decades ago have saved millions of lives. Infections that were once a death sentence were easily treated with the medications. Unfortunately, many antibiotics are now becoming ineffective because bacteria have become resistant to the drugs.

We have overused antibiotics with reckless abandon and are now beginning to see the consequences. Some bacteria have mutated into “superbugs”.

We’ve used antibiotics so freely, some bacteria have mutated into so-called “superbugs.” They’ve become resistant to the very drugs designed to kill them. A study commissioned by the British government estimates that by 2050, 10 million people worldwide could die each year from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. That’s more than currently die from cancer. (source)

Infections by drug-resistant microbes may eventually be the leading cause of death.

The World Health Organization predicts that worldwide death rates from drug-resistant microbes will climb from the current 700,000 per year to 10 million by 2050. At that point, they will have surpassed cancer, heart disease, and diabetes to become the main cause of death in the human race.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest health threats of our time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Antibiotic resistance has the potential to affect people at any stage of life, as well as the healthcare, veterinary, and agriculture industries, making it one of the world’s most urgent public health problems.

Each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 people die as a result. (source)

Karen Hoffmann, who heads the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, told Newsweek those figures may be on the low side:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Superbugs Pose A Very Real Threat To Humanity

Superbugs Pose A Very Real Threat To Humanity

Superbugs, those pesky bacteria that have evolved to become resistant to antibiotics, are on the rise and pose a very real threat to humanity. Antimicrobial resistance is a large and growing problem, with the potential for enormous health and economic consequences for the United States and the rest of the world.

According to CNBC, the media outlet which reported on a new OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) report, released Wednesday, superbug infections could cost the lives of about 2.4 million people in North America, Europe, and Australia over the next 30 years unless more is done to stem antibiotic resistance, which is already high across the globe.

Resistance is also projected to grow even more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries. In Brazil, Indonesia, and Russia, for example, between 40 percent and 60 percent of infections are already resistant, compared to an average of 17 percent in OECD countries. In these countries, the growth of antimicrobial resistance rates is forecast to be 4 to 7 times higher than in OECD countries between now and 2050.

About 29,500 persons die each year on average in the United States from infections related to eight drug-resistant bacteria. By 2050, that number is expected to rise sharply.  It is estimated that antimicrobial resistance will kill about 1 million people in the United States, in just over 30 years.

The economic toll of this superbug crisis is huge: In the United States alone the health-care costs dealing with antimicrobial resistance could reach $65 billion by 2050, according to the OECD report. That is more than the flu, HIV, and tuberculosis. If projections are correct, resistance to backup antibiotics will be 70 percent higher in 2030 compared to 2005 in OECD countries. In the same period, resistance to third-line treatments will double across EU countries. –CNBC

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