Concerns over antibiotic resistance are driving policies to restrict the use of antibiotics on animal farms worldwide. The availability of medical interventions to prevent and control animal diseases on the farm will directly impact global food security, feed the future initiatives, and global health.
This resource center is not intended to be a forum to eliminate the use of antibiotics in food animal production as there is a specific need for antibiotics to treat diseases. Nor is it to advocate strategies that use new single-acting antibiotics as they too are predicted to eventually fail against documented pathogen adaptability and resistant strain development. Rather, strategies for treatment or prevention of diseases, as well as enhancement of production, that do not result in the creation of selection pressure favoring the development of antimicrobial resistance will be the preferred topic.
In view of the emerging global concerns with antibiotic resistance there is a pressing need to have a scientific forum to discuss alternatives to antibiotics in food-animal production. The global increase in antibiotic resistance among bacterial pathogens is believed due, in part, to the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed as growth promoters. Consequently, there is a growing concern that the potential development of antibiotic resistant strains within food animal production facilities and among food-borne bacteria could seriously compromise current medical interventions and public health. In some countries (European Union), the use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) has been discontinued, and some Asian countries are planning to follow the EU to ban AGPs. Importantly, restrictions on the use of medicated feed are also being considered. Thus, continued reliance on antibiotics in animal production may result in new restrictions, including the international trade of food-animal products. The restriction of antibiotics is not limited to countries with intensive animal production system as these restrictions may also adversely affect the production of livestock and poultry in developing countries. There is also increasing scientific evidence that implicates certain antibiotics with disrupting the normal flora of the gut, yielding negative consequence on the innate immune system, disease resistance and health.
As we move into the 21st Century and the demands for animal food products increase to meet the nutritional needs of a growing world population, alternative strategies to prevent and control animal diseases is a global issue and a critical component of efforts to alleviate poverty and world hunger.