Antibiotic Misuse

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Apr 2018 11:26:36


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a vast country like India where the majority of the population is non-vegetarian and heavily feeds on chicken and poultry, the problem takes ominous proportions and the implications are immense.


This is not just playing with a few lives, but playing havoc with all humanity, as infusing high doses of
antibiotics in the human food chain alters the whole human genetic mapping in the long run. This renders antibiotics useless in treating diseases, gradually ruining a human’s ability to survive even the most ordinary infections.

COVETED environment body The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has slammed an advertisement highlighting that no antibiotics are used in chicken. Calling it an ‘eyewash,’ CSE alleged that the use of antibiotics in poultry sector was ‘rampant.’


It slammed All India Poultry Development and Services Private Limited for its advertisement and said it was “complete misrepresentation.” The advertisement refers to the results of a 2014 study conducted by the CSE on chicken.


Strongly rejecting the way the study results have been twisted to suggest that there is no misuse of antibiotics in the poultry sector and that the chicken produced is safe, CSE said, “They are even using life-saving drugs like colistin to fatten the chicken.


There seems to be no genuine attempt by the industry to reduce antibiotic misuse and this advertisement is an eyewash, Deputy Director General, CSE, Chandra Bhushan, said. The advertisement said the Indian poultry industry had already adopted usage of prebiotics, probiotics, phytogenic additives, acidifiers and immunostimulants as an alternative to antibiotics.


Resistant bacteria can get transferred to handlers and consumers. Unabsorbed antibiotics, as well as resistant bacteria in chicken droppings which enter into the environment, are a big concern. India does not have any standards on residue levels in chicken meat.


CSE researchers believe that even after so many years of the issue being highlighted, the Government response to address the antibiotic resistance crisis has been inadequate so far. There is no legal ban on the use of antibiotic growth promoters in poultry.


The 2014 advisory from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries have no legal binding. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is yet to come up with final standards of antibiotic residues in chicken.
“We have a National Action Plan on AMR now, but unfortunately, there are no funds allocated for it. The plan would have no real functionality without money put behind it,” Bhushan added.


Food is one of the vital necessities of life and cheating on it or playing with food safety amounts to playing with people’s lives and this must be treated as most heinous of crimes. Those responsible for such perfidy must deserve the harshest of punishments.


This is not just playing with a few lives, but playing havoc with all humanity, as infusing high doses of antibiotics in the human food chain alters the whole human genetic mapping in the long run.


This renders antibiotics useless in treating diseases, gradually ruining a human’s ability to survive even the most ordinary infections.
In a vast country like India where the majority of the population is non-vegetarian and heavily feeds on chicken and poultry, the problem takes ominous proportions and the implications are immense.


The impact is not yet discernible so vividly in ordinary circumstances which is why no one seems to be taking up the issue with the seriousness it requires. In the US and other developed countries, the regulations regarding food safety and quality are rigidly followed because this is a sector of utmost importance since it concerns human life.


In India not only the rules are lax and legal loopholes many, corruption, lack of accountability and negligence serve as the death nail. Poultry owners here know very well what they are doing and they can easily switch to healthier and safer modes of poultry breeding at a little cost but many of them won’t do it simply because they know of the legal tardiness and administrative sloppiness which only embolden them in the wrongdoing.


Poultry is a billion-dollar business in the country but it is not a very organised sector, which is why it is difficult to locate and punish the wrongdoers. Every small village has half a dozen rigged up shacks selling chicken, and most of them are neither registered with any traders’ organisation nor authorised to sell poultry. Many of them have their own breeding grounds in the backyards. They vanish just as frequently they appear. There is no chance of any quality control in what they are producing or selling. Moreover, since huge money is involved in the business, chances of corruption quadruple, which keeps the wrong practices prevailing.


A crackdown means loss of money for everyone down the line which is why no one is very eager to change the status quo and set things right. Profit is the main motive. A little investment in scientific practices can do a world of good not only to all meat eaters but also sellers and breeders who handle poultry because they are equally prone to antibiotic resistance.


But who cares to spend that much extra when doing less is perfectly fine? No one is thinking of the future danger such a wrong approach portends; the present profit is the only bait to happily play out the risk. It falls upon the Government to proactively take steps to make our poultry safe.


It is a national health crisis, a silent killer which only strict Government intervention and preventive action can control. The legal framework banning such antibiotic use needs to be strengthened but more than that it is the implementation of the law that has to be complete.


The bane of India is the lack of implementation of the laws because laws are many but there is lack of political will that weakens the laws. Lack of political will leads to the slackening of administration and prevalence of corruption because there is no accountability.


We need to streamline and bolster the mechanisms and adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards misuse of antibiotics in sources of food. Even our vegetarian food products like vegetables and fruits are no longer safe as they are laced with impermissible doses of chemical fertilisers used for faster growth and hence greater profit.
There are hardly any checks and balances to stem the use of such chemicals, again, due to the lack of administrative and political alacrity. Corruption plays a big role in maintaining the status quo as no one wants a change that could adversely affect profits.


But a responsible Government must take the issue seriously and take prompt action against violators who use drugs and chemicals in food beyond what is allowable. The Food and Drug department and other authorised quality control bodies of the Government need to be empowered with adequate funds and logistics and their job cut out.
They must be given a free hand in stopping the misuse of antibiotics in poultry and their actions must be regularly monitored, followed-up and accounted for in a time-bound manner so that the results are visible on the ground.