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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Agroecosystem Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #347763

Research Project: Assessing and Managing Antibiotic Resistance, Nutrients, and Pathogens In Animal-Impacted Agroecosystems

Location: Agroecosystem Management Research

Title: Antibiotic resistance in agroecosystems: A One Health perspective

Author
item Durso, Lisa
item Cook, Kimberly - Kim

Submitted to: EcoHealth
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/23/2018
Publication Date: 3/14/2018
Citation: Durso, L.M., Cook, K.L. 2018. Antibiotic resistance in agroecosystems: A One Health perspective. EcoHealth. 14:1-6.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-018-1324-7

Interpretive Summary: The One Health concept seeks to integrate human health, animal health, and environmental health, with the idea that human health is linked to the health of animals and the environment. Agriculture reflects One Health principals, with the job of the farmer being to sustainably balance human, animal, and soil health. Antibiotics are used in food animal production, and antibiotic resistance is common in animal manures, including manures from animals never treated with antibiotics. . In organic farming systems, animals that require antibiotic treatment because they are sick get moved out of the organic production chain, and into conventional production. The antibiotic drugs (if present), AR-bacteria, and antibiotic resistance genes (AR genes) from the animal gut are introduced into the environment via animal manures. These join and are mixed with a complex community of soil microbes, many of which are naturally resistant. There is broad consensus that agriculture needs to reduce transfer of antibiotic drugs, AR-bacteria, and AR-genes to, and through, the environment. And there is a growing body of knowledge on environmental exposure to antibiotic drugs, AR-bacteria, and AR-genes from food animal production. However the environment remains, for the most part, a black box, and the evidence needed for causal links required to assess human, animal, and environmental health risk remains a knowledge gap.

Technical Abstract: Agriculture is, at its core, an embodiment of One Health principals, with the job of the farmer being to sustainably balance human, animal, and soil health. While these principles are a well-known part of the narrative for North American organic livestock and poultry farms, they are also embraced by many individuals and families involved in conventional agricultural production systems. Antibiotic drugs are used in organic, natural, and conventional food animal operations. The use of antibiotics in organic production is limited, and any animals that require treatment are then moved from organic to conventional production systems. Meat labeled as “natural” is not legally required to come from animals that were raised without antibiotic drugs. All animals carry antibiotic resistant bacteria (AR-bacteria) and antibiotic resistance genes (AR-genes) in their guts, even animal that have never been treated with antibiotic drugs. The antibiotic drugs (if present), AR-bacteria, and antibiotic resistance genes (AR genes) from the animal gut are introduced into the environment via animal manures. These join and are mixed with a complex community of soil microbes, many of which are naturally resistant. There is broad consensus that agriculture needs to reduce transfer of antibiotic drugs, AR-bacteria, and AR-genes to, and through, the environment. And there is a growing body of knowledge on environmental exposure to antibiotic drugs, AR-bacteria, and AR-genes from food animal production. However the environment remains, for the most part, a black box, and the evidence needed for causal links required to assess human, animal, and environmental health risk remains a knowledge gap.