According to Al-Akhbar, farms have been using the antibiotic Colistin on chicken in Lebanon in order to speed up their growth; an antibiotic that is used to treat pneumonia at the very last resort. The problem goes further than that.
According to health experts, the misuse of this antibiotic causes the spread of a gene in certain strains of E-Coli that are called “mcr-1” (Mobilized Colistin Resistance). As a result, these strains will become resistant to a multitude of antibiotics, including Colistin.
This subject was discussed in a conference presented by the AUB’s Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences (FAFS) 2 weeks ago. In the conference, it was noted that the antibiotic was being used “in high amounts and without any regulation.”
It was also found that 90% of the bacterial samples taken from many farms from all over Lebanon contain the “mcr-1” gene. The antibiotic has also found its way into the drinking water supply.
Former ministers of health Wael Abou Faour and Ghassan Hasbani responded to the allegations that have been presented in the Al-Akhbar article around this issue.
Abou Faour claimed that, in 2006, the ministry of health had formed a joint committee with the ministry of agriculture, headed by Akram Chehayeb, to combat this danger and test chickens for traces of antibiotics.
He stated that a few months after him leaving the ministries of health and agriculture, the committee suspended its activities.
Hasbani then responded to Abou Faour, countering his claim: “The committee of veterinarian and agricultural medicine continued its activities in 2017-2018 and resisted attempts by the ministry of agriculture to repeal the decree banning harmful pesticides.”
“As for food safety, we increased the number of inspections to 44,000 in one year,” he stressed and explained that they stopped presenting to the media because it is harmful to Lebanon’s reputation, and opted for “non-conforming instead of media defamation.”
The misuse of antibiotics is a big issue worldwide. The threat that this has on human health is not irrelevant. It can reverse many of the advancements that have taken place in the domain of medicine.