India, along with its four other BRICS partners -- Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa -- will experience a growth of 99 percent in antibiotic consumption in livestock over the same period, the researchers noted in the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The discovery and development of antibiotics was a major public health revolution of the 20th century," said author Ramanan Laxminarayan, senior research scholar in the Princeton Environmental Institute.

"Their effectiveness -- and the lives of millions of people around the world -- are now in danger due to the increasing global problem of antibiotic resistance, which is being driven by antibiotic consumption," Laxminarayan, an alumnus of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, pointed out.

Numerous studies have suggested links between the use of antimicrobials and antibiotic-resistant bacteria originating from livestock as well as their potential consequences for human health.

In the study, the researchers noted that two thirds, or 66 percent, of the projected global increase in antimicrobial consumption is due to the growing number of animals raised for food production.

The remaining third is attributable to a shift in farming practices, with a larger proportion of animals projected to be raised in "intensive farming systems", or factory farms.

Global demand for animal protein is rising dramatically, and antimicrobials are used routinely in modern animal production for disease prevention and as growth promoters.

The study focused on cattle, chickens and pigs, and identified the latter two as the main contributors to antibiotic consumption.
The study is based on a limited data set of veterinary-antimicrobials sales from 32 countries.

 

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