Antibiotics – life-saving, cheap but under immense threat. The recent news that bacteria resistant to Colistin, the antibiotic of last resort, have been found in the UK brings the post-antibiotic age ever closer.
Colistin-resistant bacteria were found in three UK pig farms and others across the world. The first cases in China were thought to have been caused by overuse of antibiotics. Factory-farmed animals are often routinely fed antibiotics to keep them healthy in over-crowded compounds. However, UK vets have now updated prescribing guidelines to restrict the use of Colistin in animals.
Pigs are believed to have the same level of intelligence as a three-year-old child. They have been found to have a complex language of grunts and squeaks and thrive in social groups, touching snouts in the same way that we would shake hands.
But their treatment when farmed intensively is not always fitting for a creature of this intelligence. Around 55 percent of sows produced in the UK have to give birth while confined in a crate and remain there until their litter is weaned. Around 9 million pigs are slaughtered each year in the UK… 9 million. To me, it seems disturbingly callous to produce meat from these mammals who are capable of love, loyalty and reasoning.
I am by no means an expert in this field and I know that there are many passionate, conscientious and ethical farmers. It still remains that scientists seem largely in agreement of the massive strain that large scale meat production places on the environment. In this country, we have sufficient sources of nutrients to make the eating of meat a luxury rather than a necessity. Something to think about.
See the Compassion in World Farming website for more information about this issue.
By Katherine Clamp, Communications Officer.