Hurrah for Meat & Turkey!
Our best wishes to all for the New Year!
The past months have seen a rise of more and more arguments in the mainstream press to cut down on meat consumption, with meat-free diets presented as both essential to combat AMR (because of antibiotics in animal feeds, presently the greater portion of global purchase and consumption) and as a key policy to combat climat change because husbandry is a large producer of greenhouse gas emissions, with, frequently an 'anti-productivism' and 'de-growth' promotion trend.
The argument against meat is being pushed forward now in the maintream press while petitions circulate to that effect.
Lately the Guardian, published policy proposals to instaure taxes on meat, presenting this as probably unavoidable over the next ten years. ("Meat tax ‘inevitable’ to beat climate and health crises") the article cites a study which "shows that increasing the price of beef by 40% would lead to a 13% drop in consumption." and writes: "’Sin’ taxes to reverse the rapid global growth in meat eating are likely in five to 10 years, according to a report for investors managing over $4tn..."
We find bizzare these alledgedly ‘science-based’ arguments starting with humans as 'siners' (for a new 'Goddess').
Not a month goes by without a criticism leveled at the expected increase in meat production in Low and Middle Income Countries. Often enough, the argument is coupled with a 'bio only' or 'vicinity production only' argument.
We would like to point out that to stop meat production at present level would deprive the 3 billion plus poor people from access to basic proteins indefinitely, while taxes on meat in wealthy countries would further deprive the poorest half of the population from protein, to which they already have a shrinking access. It would also be harsh on most of the middle class already over-taxed because of the tendancy to decrease taxes on upper incomes while decreasing (or even forbidding) public investments in education, infrastructure, health or research. Further, it would fuel obesity, one does get fat on potatoes and noodles and slim on meat and veggies.
Even in the OECD countries going away from meat production would endanger national nutrition. An article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in the US analysed the effect, just on the US population alone, if the US were to shift from a meat based to a solely plant based diet and concludes that: "This assessment suggests that removing animals from US agriculture would reduce agricultural GHG emissions, but would also create a food supply incapable of supporting the US population’s nutritional requirements. "
We do not mean to deny that antibiotic use in husbandry is a problem The WHO is correct in demanding a more responsible management. And we agree with AMR specialist and AGISAR member Ellen Silbergeld's brilliant book "Chickensizing Farm and Food" : industrial production is essential to feed humanity, but it needs to be more respectful of human laborers, of animals and of the environment.
We note the paucity of arguments for infection prevention and control systems in husbandry globally ! There is also a paucity of demands for proper waste management, as some pharma companies have agreed to, and others need to come under regulations not to dump waste into the soil and rivers untreated.
Meat is good for the mostly carnivorous human population on this planet, meat based diet has contributed to the increase in longevity and good health of a growing population. Everyone on this earth has a right to good nutrition, we cannot feed humanity properly without industrialized agriculture.
We believe that a while Indian vegetarian cooking is among the best in the world, (according to our taste buds) one ought to respect the diversity of the human condition and cultures. From the extensive use of glyphosate (registered as an antibiotic) to antibiotics use for bio fruits and vegetables, it would be travelling a deadend to target meat itself.
We need a campaign for containment of AMR infections with clean waste management, from the hospital to the meat plant, with a watch and a demand to insure similar containment and hygiene everywhere.
No, to combat AMR does not have to mean no meat delicacies for the New Year!
We wish our readers the best for the New Year, and may we operate together to feed the world well as soon as possible!
(this editorial view point is entirely my sole responsibility)
Web=links: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/11/meat-tax-inevitable-to-beat-climate-and-health-crises-says-report
Nutritional and greenhouse gas impacts of removing animals from US agriculture by M. B. Hall and R.R. White. http://www.pnas.org/content/114/48/E10301
AGISAR and Ellen K. Silbergeld:
In AMR Control 2017, Pr Silbergeld writes with WHO Awa Aidara Kane on Agriculture and Food Production as Drivers of the Global Emergence and Dissemination of Antimicrobial Resistance, rationally. http://resistancecontrol.info/2017/agriculture-and-food-production-as-drivers-of-the-global-emergence-and-dissemination-of-antimicrobial-resistance/
Pr Silbergeld’s great critical book: “Chickenizing Farms and Food. How Industrial Meat Production Endangers Workers, Animals, and Consumers”
Web=link: https://jhupbooks.press.jhu.edu/content/chickenizing-farms-and-food / or check on Amazon.
Glyphosate was registered as an antibiotic in 2014. Overuse of antibiotics in plant production gives rise to drug resistant bacterial resistant infections of plants as well.
Overall we need more science and responsible behavior on the State level. No, AMR is not a lone patient’s responsibility!
As for the trend to establish a sharp division between anti-bacterial and anti-viral, let us remember that pathogens often travel in team and that the first med used against HIV, the anti-retrovial AZT, is a powerful antibiotic!
Dear reader, if you want to react to my editorial : firstname.lastname@example.org.
Antibiotic resistance is commonly present on and spreads by conjugative plasmids
The study by Lopatkin et al. is based on the fact that antibiotic resistance is most commonly present on, and spreads by, conjugative plasmids.
The rapid and global spread of conjugative plasmids carrying medically relevant AMR genes among bacteria, particularly Gram-negatives, is of great concern.
Although these plasmids are arguably the biggest contributors to the spread and maintenance of resistance genes among bacteria, they are rarely considered as important targets to reduce the AMR burden.
Lopatkin et al. focused their work on trying to understand and quantify the persistence of resistance among bacterial populations due to horizontal gene transfer (conjugation).
The first part of the study describes a mathematical model that was developed to determine the necessary plasmid transfer frequency to allow for the maintenance of the resistance genes among a population. Using their equation, the group was able to model various situations which resulted in plasmid and resistance maintenance and spread and confirmed that a plasmids will persist either due to carrying a beneficial trait and not having a metabolic burden and/or by having high transfer rates.
These models suggest that if conjugation and/or plasmid stability would be targeted, resistance would no longer persist in bacterial populations.
In the second part of the paper, Lopatkin et al. used chemical compounds known to inhibit plasmid transfer and increase plasmid loss, but that have no effect on bacterial growth, to gather data for their model.
Their results suggest that efficiently disrupting plasmid transfer and stability would allow for an effective loss of resistance from a particular population.
This study further points at the necessity to consider different targets when dealing with the problem of AMR. Plasmids are ubiquitous among bacteria and are hotspots for the accumulation of resistance genes and key elements for their spread.
Specifically developing methods to eliminate plasmids will reduce the global burden of resistance and this study provides compelling evidence that targeting individual conjugation and plasmid maintenance function will have a population wide effect.
Summary by Alessandro Lazdins, Ph.D.
Review of Lopatkin, A. J., et al. (2017). "Persistence and reversal of plasmid-mediated antibiotic resistance." Nat Commun 8(1): 1689.