Antibiotic resistance genes rife in Chinese livestock

THE unchecked use of antibiotics in animals in China is at the extreme end of a global phenomenon threatening human health, experts say.

China uses four times more antibiotics for veterinary purposes than the US, with residues contaminating manure sold as fertiliser and eventually rivers, food crops and drinking water, they say.

In a study of Chinese commercial pig farms, scientists found 149 unique antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs).

“ARGs pose a potential global risk to human health and should be classified as pollutants,” said co-author Professor James Tiedje, from Michigan State University, who collaborated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to carry out the investigation.

PNAS 2013; online 11 Feb