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ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE AND THE ENVIRONMENT: CURRENT SCIENCE AND POLICY CONCERNS

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Pp. 89-108 in Animal Agriculture and the Environment: National Center for Manure and Animal Waste Management White Papers. J. M. Rice, D. F. Caldwell, F. J. Humenik, eds. 2006. St. Joseph, Michigan: ASABE.  .(doi:10.13031/2013.20248)
Authors:   Anita R. Bahe, John Classen, Bill Williams

An accepted definition of antibiotic resistance as presented in 1998 by the Institute of Medicine is a property of bacteria that confers the capacity to inactivate or exclude antibiotics, or a mechanism that blocks the inhibitory or killing effects of antibiotics, leading to survival despite exposure to antimicrobials (Jjemba and Robertson, 2002). The occurrence of microbial pathogens demonstrating resistance to adverse stressors threatening their very survival is not a new (Phillips et al., 2004; WHO, 2001). Bacteria have developed mechanisms for protection in a wide range of environments over time, some of which are currently better understood due to advances in scientific methods and analytical techniques.

The development of antibiotics for human and animal use dates back many years; perhaps most notable was Alexander Flemmings creation of penicillin in 1928 (GIH, 2000). Many infectious diseases that once caused increasing mortality and morbidity rates among humans and animal populations have been effectively managed as a result of having antibiotics and pharmaceuticals available in health care management. Despite these positive outcomes, both the widespread usage and lack of prudent use of antibiotics have caused global concerns about increasing incidences of antibiotic resistance properties and strains of resistant organisms. Concerns have also increased with the recognition of greater interconnectedness between humans, animals and the environment throughout the global community. Further complicating this issue are the economic interests associated with industrial progress; hazards considered low-level and long-term seldom gain the same attention as that of crisis scenarios; and incremental knowledge about public health concerns often raises troubling questions about risk and response (GIH, 2000).

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