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SUPERBUG TIME BOMB: FDA only vets 10% of antibiotics that farm animals share with humans

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Reuters / Francisco Bonilla

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The regular administration of antibiotics to US farm animals could have disastrous effects for humans, scientists fear. Many of the drugs are same as those given to humans and there are worries that the bacteria could become resistant due to overuse.

Major US poultry firms have been carrying out this process for years. They give chickens antibiotics not only when they are unwell, but also when they are healthy. This practice has been administrated because it helps to promote faster growth and thus higher profits as largely volumes of poultry can be sold.

Reuters uncovered the scandal in a ‘special report’ focusing on five major companies in the industry that give medication to their animals, even when it was not needed.

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Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett

It is over a decade since the FDA said in 2003 that they would review every new animal drug which was on the market to make sure there was no chance of a superbug being created due to overuse. However, Reuters revealed that the organization has only evaluated about 10 percent of the approximately 270 drugs, which contain similar types of antibiotics that are also important for treating humans.

Meanwhile, the FDA has only reviewed 7 percent of medications used to prevent disease and promote growth within animals for possibility of superbugs being created. There are around 390 drugs currently on the market. A staggering 80 percent of antibiotics currently on sale in the US are issued to livestock and not people.

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