Planetary boundaries for antibiotic and pesticide resistance identified

phys.org | 11/13/2018 | Staff
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Resistance to antibiotics and pesticides is rising at alarming rates. Yet, currently, there is no global framework to track the threat to human health and crops. Researchers have now published the first estimates of antibiotic and pesticide "planetary boundaries" in the journal Nature Sustainability. The researchers suggest that if resistance to antibiotics and pesticides goes beyond these boundaries, societies risk large-scale health and agricultural crises.

The new research concludes that Gram-negative bacteria, a group of bacteria that includes well-known pathogens such as Salmonella, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and E. coli, are already beyond the "planetary boundary," as some strains of several species are already resistant to all or most antibiotics tested.

Tipping - Point - Bacteria - Doctors - Infections

"It appears as if we have crossed a tipping point for Gram-negative bacteria, with doctors increasingly reporting untreatable infections. We now need to manage these 'nightmare bacteria' differently," says lead author Peter Søgaard Jørgensen from the Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere programme at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University.

"Without new approaches, going to hospital in the future will increasingly become a gamble. More patients will get unlucky, and become infected with untreatable or hard to treat bacteria. This is an urgent risk to human society," says Søgaard Jørgensen.

Team - State - Boundary - Types - Resistance

The team defined and assessed the state of the planetary boundary for six types of resistance including: antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria; general resistance to insecticides and herbicides and resistance to transgenic Bt-crops and glyphosate resistance in herbicide resistant cropping systems. All six assessed boundaries are in zones of increasing risk and three out of six are in zones of high regional or global risk.

Pesticide resistance is an urgent concern, particularly resistance to glyphosate (the core ingredient in the herbicide Roundup) and insecticidal Bt-toxins in transgenic crops, which are now...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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