Deadly “Super Fungus” Bred on Conventional Farms

May 30th, 2019

The majority of antibiotics in the U.S. are utilized in the livestock industry, both as  growth promoters and to control diseases that are common in the crowded, dirty, stress-filled environments where most conventional livestock spend their short lives. This kind of use is linked to the growth of antibiotic-resistant diseases that threaten human and animal welfare. The same is true for fungicides used in conventional agriculture.

Fusarium Blight on Wheat
Source: Graham Rawlings, Flickr

Now, a multi-drug resistant “super fungus” is killing people. This new superbug’s rise is associated with the blanket use of fungicides on crops—the same classes of fungicides that are used to save human lives from disease.

Organic farmers use management strategies, such as crop or pasture rotation and encouraging beneficial insects, to control many of the pests and diseases that threaten their crops and livestock. Every substance used in organic agriculture to control diseases and pests is carefully analyzed and reviewed for multiple factors, including essentiality and health impacts. It is time the rest of agriculture followed suit. Humanity needs effective antibiotics and fungicides to save lives in medical settings—rather than using them to cover problems caused by poor management.


A Lethal Industrial Farm Fungus Is Spreading Among Us
Independent Science News
by Alex Liebman and Rob Wallace, PhD

Eighty percent of U.S. antibiotics are used to promote livestock and poultry growth and protect the animals from the bacterial consequences of the manure-laden environments in which they are grown. That’s 34 million pounds a year of antibiotics as of 2015. 

The agricultural applications help generate drug resistance across multiple human bacterial infections, killing 23,000-100,000 Americans a year and, with an increasing amount of antibiotics applied abroad, 700,000 people worldwide.

Now a fungal species, Candida auris, has developed multidrug resistance and is rapidly spreading across human populations across the globe (see figure). The CDC reports 90% of C. auris infections are clocking in resistant to one antifungal drug and 30% to two or more.

C. auris, yeast, is killing immunocompromised patients in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes at a prodigious clip, up to 40-60% of those who suffer bloodstream infections in a month’s time.

In the rooms of the infected and the dead, the fungus appears intransigent to nearly all attempts at eradication. The fungus can survive even a floor-to-ceiling spray of aerosolized hydrogen peroxide.

Read the entire article.

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