Since the start of the 21st Century, there is an awareness that antibiotics don’t work as well as they used to. Bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to their effects and we are approaching a time when many bacteria could be resistant to all the antibiotics we have. As individuals and a society as a whole, we should try to limit our use of antibiotics, substituting them with non-antibiotic bacterial killers if these are found to be effective.
Before antibiotics were used in the mid-1930s, 30 per cent of all deaths were caused by bacterial infection.
Sweden banned non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in agriculture in 1986 and has since evolved a system of meat production that does not depend on these drugs. A 1997 World Health Organization report recommended ending the use in animal feed of all antibiotics used in human medicine. As a result the use of four antibiotics in animal feed was banned throughout Europe. In the 1970's, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a ban on certain uses of penicillin and other antibiotics in animal feed. The proposals met with a storm of protest from legislators representing agribusiness interests and were never made final.
The development of antimicrobial resistance in many pathogenic microbes poses one of the most serious problems in the control of infectious diseases.