New study shows factory farms breed mutated superbugs with antibiotic feed

As if there weren't enough reasons to avoid factory-farmed meat, a new Boston University study shows that the low levels of antibiotics used in pig and chicken farms to stimulate growth in the animals also tends to stimulate mutation in bacteria. Antibiotics largely kill bacteria by encouraging the production of free radicals in the cells. In low doses, those free radicals can greatly increase the chance of mutation in the bacteria, sometimes resulting in bugs that are resistant to a wide range of typical antibiotics. Just to give you an idea how prevalent the use of farm antibiotics is, the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that over 70 percent of all antibiotics used in this country are fed to farm animals.

According to Jim Collins, one of the paper's authors (as quoted on Atlantic.com): "The low-level antibiotics are boosting up the mutation rate and not killing off the bacteria. As result, you have created a zoo of mutants."

Of course, we don't need to use antibiotics in this way, even in factory farming.