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Rethinking Of Antimicrobial Decision-systems in the Management of Animal Production

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Animal farming: mapping the road towards prudent antimicrobial use

Responsible antimicrobial use in livestock farming through preventive approaches can safeguard health and food security as well as combat antimicrobial resistance.

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Antimicrobials, while undeniably beneficial in treating infections and maintaining animal health, present a growing concern and a multifaceted challenge. When used incorrectly or excessively in agriculture, they can lead to the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), posing a direct threat to both animal and human health. Moreover, the routine prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock can disrupt the natural balance of microbial communities within animals and their environments, compromising food security.

The local context of antimicrobial use

The EU-funded ROADMAP project aimed to promote the adoption of prudent antimicrobial use (AMU) in animal production across various contexts. Recognising that there's no universal solution to reducing AMU, the consortium set out to understand the local, social, economic and technical factors that contribute to AMU variation in different contexts. The interdisciplinary and participative nature of the project were central to investigating both AMR and AMU globally. “Our goal was to re-evaluate AMU decision-making processes throughout the entire food supply chain in different countries,” explains project coordinator Nicolas Fortané. ROADMAP developed local and context-based participative approaches that were implemented in 12 living labs across 10 different countries and four production sectors (pig, poultry, dairy and beef). Strategies included the reinforcement of biosecurity, vaccination and use of alternatives to antibiotics. Additionally, the consortium focused on strengthening the monitoring of antibiotic use and prescription, promoting the identification and communication of good practices on the prudent use of antibiotics. Successful experiences generated invaluable knowledge towards fostering a reduction in AMU in animal production across Europe and beyond. According to Fortané, the structure of the food chain and the power relationships between stakeholders are often disregarded in the proposed strategies. The working conditions of animal health professionals and the business model of a few actors such as veterinary practitioners or cooperatives should also be considered when designing strategies towards prudent AMU.

Recommendations for the global fight against antimicrobial resistance

In the pursuit of combating AMR, ROADMAP generated policy briefs that support a holistic approach. Firstly, the consortium emphasised the need for a systemic transition towards prudent antimicrobial use, transcending mere behavioural changes. This involves fortifying veterinary public health systems where needed, fostering the development of robust monitoring systems, and nurturing the prevalence of holistic veterinary medicine. “The aim is to empower veterinarians to evolve into advisors for both animal health and production rather than mere problem-solvers. These efforts should be reinforced by legislative mechanisms to supplement voluntary approaches,” emphasises Fortané. ROADMAP underscored the significance of social and economic innovations in tackling AMR. Collaborative and coordinated efforts among various stakeholders and different segments of the food supply chain are central to reduce AMU. Moreover, incentives are needed to motivate the transition away from the status quo, emphasising at the same time the cost-effectiveness of preventive measures. Tailored solutions such as funding opportunities for smaller sectors to develop expertise, training and familiarising farmers with the problems of AMU can also help to combat antimicrobial resistance and safeguard the future of animal and public health and the environment.


ROADMAP, antimicrobial use, antimicrobial resistance, antibiotics, animal production, food security, livestock, dairy

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