When discussing the negative impacts of antibiotic use on livestock, typically it is with regard to humans. In a broad sense, antibiotic use will naturally select for bacteria that are resistant to such drugs. The fear is that “food animals” which have been treated with antibiotics will expose humans to these antibiotic-resistant bacteria, thus risking infection.
The manure of antibiotic-treated livestock is also used to fertilize crops, but it has been found that crops like corn and potatoes can absorb the chemicals. This can happen even on organic farms, as they also use fertilizer on their crops. In short, not only have humans been exposed to antibiotics in milk and meat but they may also be consuming vegetables laced with antibiotics.
In a broader context, antibiotic use on livestock can affect the environment by getting into water systems, which in turn can affect aquatic life. One article cites that male smallmouth bass have been found carrying eggs in their testes, and tests showed that antibiotics as well as other chemicals were found in the water.
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Interesting question. Antibiotics used on livestock can harm the environment through overuse. This is to say that farmers and ranchers have free reign to administer doses of medication to fight off bacteria and viruses as they see fit. The problem arises when the farmer overuses the medication and the bacteria builds immunity to the medicine, causing a mutation within the pathogen making it more resistant to antibiotics and a stronger strain of bacteria or virus. This is negative for the environment and surrounding wildlife and humans because bacteria and viruses are usually transmittable to other animals. The chemicals from the antibiotics can also find their way into water sources through the feces of the animal and water runoff.
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