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By Rady Ananda

The Union of Concerned Scientists advises that a recent study reveals “the number of genes for antibiotic resistance in soil microbes has significantly increased over the past 70 years” – fifteen-fold in the case of tetracyclins. Linked below is a petition to support the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, and a discount for DIRT! the movie.

The UCS reports, “A team of British scientists tested samples of benign and disease-causing bacteria from a soil archive in the Netherlands that dates back to 1940, the era when antibiotic use became common.

“Genes that confer resistance significantly increased over time for every antibiotic drug class they tested. Genes that confer resistance to tetracycline antibiotics are 15 times more abundant in current-day soil samples than in samples even from the 1970s.

“Levels of resistance rose in spite of improved waste management practices and the Dutch policy restricting nontherapeutic antibiotic use in agriculture, which is tougher than that of many other countries including the United States. The team concluded that environmental levels of antibiotic-resistance genes are probably still increasing in similar locations worldwide. Read the study abstract in Environmental Science and Technology.”

The Care2 Petition site is on it:

“Legislation before Congress is making drug companies very nervous. And that’s a good thing. It would ban antibiotics in farm animal feed — a practice that is both unnecessary and dangerous. The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act will make the Food and Drug Administration re-evaluate the agricultural uses of seven classes of antibiotics that are important to human health.

“Please support this important act, for the health of our farms and ourselves! Tell Congress that farm animals shouldn’t be drugged unnecessarily.

“Now here’s the truly scary part: industrial-scale farms feed animals huge amounts of antibiotics. The vast majority of the time these drugs are used not to treat disease, but to promote growth and to compensate for stressful, crowded conditions.

“The use of so many antibiotics in animal agriculture also speeds the development and spread of resistant bacteria, which makes many life-saving medicines less effective.”

Sign the Petition

Speaking of the importance of soil (and the microbes within), the producers of the documentary, DIRT! the Movie, are offering a 10% discount this month if you use this Valentine’s Day promo code: LOVEDIRT (valid through 2.28.10) when buying the DVD.