Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria’s Affect on the Food Chain

New research suggests that there may be antibiotic resistant bacteria in our agricultural soil that may spread into our food chain.

Scientist say that antibiotic resistance will kill more people by 2050 than cancer at a cost as big as the economy of the entire world. Many things affect the way our food is grown. The use of manure added by farmers and from domesticated and wild animals is widespread. Another consideration is the impact of the fecal matter of birds and other wild animals on agricultural soil.

Researchers from the University of Southampton continue to seek answers as to how these antibiotic resistant bacteria are introduced into soil and how they may be transferred into the food we eat. They are studying whether practices in animal husbandry and improper composted manure practices contribute to the introduction of bacteria into agricultural soil. They are also studying whether bacteria gains resistance from the soil antibiotic resistance gene pool and is then introduced into the food chain.

In another study out of Dublin, Trinity College researchers have isolated strings of amino acids, which have potential antibiotic effects on certain bacteria that cause food poisoning and spoil food. These amino acids, called peptides, were found in broad beans and cowpea crops. Researchers say that so far, their studies are promising as there have been no antibiotic resistance evidence that has emerged. They also plan more studies on how these peptides may help protect against bacteria that cause debilitating disease in humans.

Most of the effective antibiotics used in humans are derived from the protein in plants. However, scientists seek to discover new ways to produce antibiotics, since antibiotic resistance has increased. They believe that the natural peptides from many plants and plant seeds could be effective in the development of new antibiotics, as they study the ways plants evolve to develop protections against bacteria in the soil. 

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