Antimicrobial resistance has reached crisis stage in human medicine. The rapid acceleration of multidrug-resistant bacteria in the past 2 decades has overtaken new drug development, and patients and clinicians are faced with the prospect of untreatable infections. Although much of the problem stems from overuse and misuse of antimicrobial agents in human medicine, large-scale use of antimicrobials in agriculture also contributes to the crisis. Agricultural uses of antibiotics produce environmental exposures in a variety of reservoirs, which select for resistant microbes and microbial genes. This article presents the major lines of evidence documenting the risks to human health of some of the agricultural uses of antimicrobials. A brief review of the microbiologic antecedents of resistance is followed by a discussion of agricultural uses of antimicrobials and a targeted review of the literature, which provides the background knowledge and evidence necessary for pediatricians and other clinicians to be informed and to advocate for judicious use of antimicrobials in all sectors.

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