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Organic Chicken Farms

September 5, 2011

Removing antibiotics from poultry farms could have immediate public health implications.



Antibiotic-free chicken farms…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Antibiotic resistance is a threat to both human and animal health. But when large-scale chicken farms stop using antibiotics and turn to organic production practices, antibiotic resistance in these flocks can drop precipitously within the first generation after the change. This according to environmental health scientist Amy Sapkota at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. She and her colleagues studied antibiotic resistance in 10 conventional poultry farms, half of which transitioned to organic practices.

AMY SAPKOTA (University of Maryland School of Public Health):

In even the first flock of newly organic birds, you immediately see reductions in both and antibiotic resistant enterococci and multi-drug resistant enterococci.


She says these pathogens can cause severe infections in immune-compromised patients, so switching to more organic poultry production could have significant public health implications. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.