ORGANIC PRODUCE: HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE OR A CONTRIBUTOR TO ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE?
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe organic food production industry has been developing quickly in recent years. As the industry has grown, so has the perception that organic foods are generally healthier than their non-organic equivalents. This stems from the fact that they do not use chemical fertilizers, which are believed be less healthy for humans and the environment. However, in organic farming manure is often used in place of these fertilizers. From an antibiotic resistance standpoint, this may also pose an issue. The aim of this project is to question whether organic produce is really better for human health if it may also be contributing to the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. To examine this question, three types of produce were purchased from a local grocery store. This included beets, carrots, and romaine lettuce, with organic and non-organic varieties of each. In the laboratory, the produce were swabbed to collect bacteria and grown on agar plates to obtain isolates.The final steps of this project will be to test the antibiotic-resistance levels of these microbes to a total of three highly-prescribed antibiotics: cephalexin, ampicillin, and doxycycline. Bacterial isolates will also be sequenced to determine the presence of pathogenic organisms and assess any potential risk to consumers of this produce. Resistance levels between organically-farmed and non-organically farmed vegetables are hypothesized to be approximately equal.
Degree ProgramEnvironmental Sciences