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America's farm animals could undergo mass vaccination as producers move away from antibiotics

Farm animals

(NaturalNews) Recognizing that the future of antibiotics as an adjunct to commercial animal husbandry is just one "superbug" mutation away from an utter and catastrophic breakdown, the pharmaceutical industry is busy developing the next phase of drug-based "healthcare" for livestock: mass vaccination with an ever-evolving pipeline of new vaccines.

Elanco LLC, a unit of drug giant Eli Lilly & Co., recently opened the doors to a new 48,000-square-foot facility located about 23 miles outside of Indianapolis that's dedicated entirely to developing new vaccines for the world's 70 billion farm animals, many of which are currently fed huge amounts of antibiotics to make them bigger and fatter prior to slaughter.

Livestock animals account for the bulk of antibiotic use, consuming some 80 percent of all antibiotics currently in production. This is a multi-billion dollar business for drug companies, especially in the U.S., which is why Big Pharma is now scrambling for an alternative as the era of antibiotic misuse and abuse comes to a bitter end.

According to Bloomberg, close to three-quarters of a million people die every single year due to drug-resistant infections caused by superbugs resulting from overuse of antibiotics. Antibiotic use in animals particularly is believed to be one of the most, if not the most, significant driving factors in antibiotic resistance.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set this upcoming January as the deadline for new rules governing the use of antibiotics in livestock that make it more difficult for farmers and ranchers to legally administer them. In other words, this $30 billion per-year racket is on its way out, and vaccines are here to save the day, profits-wise, for the drug industry.

"[The FDA's rules] include prohibiting labels that claim antibiotic use promotes growth and requiring veterinarians to administer most of the drugs," writes Jared Hopkins for Bloomberg. "Vets also will oversee drugs that are currently bought over the counter."

Animal vaccines are about replacing lost antibiotic profits, not about helping animals

The current animal vaccine market is worth around $5.5 billion, according to 2010 figures. This value is expected to increase to roughly $7.2 billion by 2020, given the industry is able to market itself in such a way as to scare reluctant farmers into making the switch, rather than simply abandoning the use of antibiotics in favor of more sustainable practices.

Elanco is already trying to corner the animal vaccine market by unveiling a whole slew of new vaccines this year, which it's funding with money that formerly went to food-animal antibiotic research. The goal is to ensure not that animals are healthy per se, but that Elanco is able to outpace the industry's current annual growth rate of 4–5 percent.

Money is what the animal vaccine industry is after, in other words, not healthier animals. If the animal vaccine industry was really focused on helping farmers and ranchers maintain healthy cattle, it would recommend something much less risky and far less expensive.

Animal vaccines are also slated for arrival in Europe, with a DNA vaccine that supposedly fights pancreas disease awaiting approval for the treatment of farmed north Atlantic salmon. Other similar vaccines for cows and other animals are likewise coming down the pipeline, as the vaccine industry pushes to break new ground in profit development.

"The future of our company is heavily grounded in vaccine development," admitted Rick Sibbel, a veterinarian who operates the technical services division of Merck Animal Health. And that speaks volumes about what's really going on with the push for more animal vaccines.

Sources for this article include:



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