Antibiotic Use and the Demise of Husbandry
Bernard E. Rollin
Received: 29 October 2017 / Accepted: 6 November 2017 / Published online: 24 November 2017
Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017
Abstract Numerous ethical issues have emerged from the industrialization of
animal agriculture. Those issues ultimately rest in large measure upon overuse of
antibiotics. How this has occurred is discussed in detail in this paper.
Keywords Industrial animal agriculture Á Antibiotic overuse Á Farm
animal welfare Á Environmental despoliation Á Husbandry agriculture Á Industrial
agriculture Á Human health Á Animal health Á Replacement of labor
by capital Á Corporatization of animal agriculture
1 Introduction: The Domestication of Animals
Virtually everyone who watches the news would be aware of the danger to human
health created by the development of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. It is
probably well-known that bacterial resistance is a source of untreatable infections,
potentially capable of causing 10 million human deaths a year by 2050, according to
Britain’s O’Neill report (O’Neill 2016: 10–11). As we will show in this essay, this
obvious problem is merely the tip of the iceberg regarding ethical issues that have
proliferated out of overuse of antibiotics in agriculture.
According to the World Health Organization, one of the most prominent sources
of bacterial resistance is the use of antimicrobials in agriculture (Aidara-Kane et al.
2017: passim). To understand this, one must know something about the history of
Bernard E. Rollin is University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University (CSU), Fort
Collins, CO, USA.
& Bernard E. Rollin
Department of Philosophy, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1781, USA
J Ethics (2018) 22:45–57