A new report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) exposes the overuse of antibiotics in the beef industry. The report is a warning to the industry about its overuse of antibiotics.

In a shocking statistic, cattle producers purchased 42% of all imported antibiotics sold for livestock in the United States in 2018. In 2018, 7.5 million pounds of antibiotics were sold for human use and 5.6 million pounds were sold for cattle. This is in stark contrast to the European Union, where the use of antibiotics in cattle is discouraged.

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The beef industry is mostly comprised of numerous feedlots in states like Texas, Nebraska, Colorado, and Iowa. These large lots are where the majority of the antibiotics are used. Cargill, JBS, Tyson, and National Beef purchase 80% of the cattle in the United States.  Antibiotics are often used even when animals are not sick.

“Overusing precious antibiotics is a dangerous crutch for feedlots that want to put off or ignore the need for real changes in how cattle are being produced,” writes Dr. David Wallinga, the report’s author and a senior health adviser with NRDC, in a blog.“If anything, U.S. feedlots today are experiencing more cattle illnesses and deaths due to liver abscesses and shipping fever, not less, according to industry vets and infrequent [U.S. Department of Agriculture] surveys,” he adds. “The paradox is that feedlot cattle seem to be getting sicker at the same time that feeding them antibiotics routinely is touted as an essential tool for preventing disease.”

The NRDC and other experts are using the cattle industry to stop its’ extensive use of antibiotics. Help solve antibiotic resistance by supporting legislation that supports the removal of factory farms and eat a plant-based diet. Read more about antibiotic use, factory farms, and the beef industry in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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