You might want to rethink that hamburger. A new study published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reports that, due to growing demand for meat, the use of antibiotics in beef, pork, and poultry is higher than ever before. Part of the problem lies in China’s increasing wealth: pork is a favorite product of the country so as its citizens become wealthier, pork is in higher demand. Antibiotics serve two general purposes: they keep animals healthy despite being housed in filthy conditions and they make it possible to fatten up the animals faster. In other words, they are what an animal activist’s nightmares are made of. “People are getting richer and want to eat more meat,” Thomas Van Boeckel, an epidemiologist at Princeton University and an author of the study, said. “Antibiotics help to provide a lot of meat for people who can afford it.” In addition to threatening the lives of animals, antibiotic use poses serious risks to human consumers. Excessive exposure to antibiotics has led to the creation of so called “superbugs,” antibiotic resistant “bugs” which scientists predict could lead to up to 10 million human deaths by 2050. Given the impressively terrifying numbers, many companies like Chipotle and McDonalds have vowed to stop using antibiotically enhanced meats.
Contributor: Phoebe Roe