Beware of magical discoveries: They generally require careful use lest the magic wear off. Even the genie's lamp gave only three wishes.
Antibiotics, which at one point were viewed as miracle drugs providing cures for previously fatal illnesses, are among the discoveries that have been used too carelessly, giving rise to an era of resistant infections. Scientists have been concerned about these resistant bacteria — methicillin-resistant
So the report on resistant infections released last week by the national
The livestock industry alone consumes some 80% of the antibiotics in this country — not to treat illness in the animals but to promote growth and prevent infections from sweeping through crowded pens. The agriculture lobby has been fierce in its fight to keep using as much of these drugs as it wants, for whatever purposes. It's true that antibiotics help produce food more cheaply. But society as a whole is picking up the large and growing tab in the form of resistant bacteria. The tally according to the CDC report: 2 million Americans sickened each year, 23,000 deaths, $23 billion a year in added medical costs and $35 billion in lost productivity. And the numbers are expected to worsen.