How To Reduce Antibiotics In Animal Husbandry ?

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Antibiotics are used in animal husbandry to cure animals, prevent infections or, in some countries, promote their growth. How to reduce their use?

Three questions to Monique Eloit, General Director of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Why are so many antibiotics used in breeding?

Monique Eloit: We should not stigmatize the livestock sector more than the others: antibiotics are a problem for everyone. As with humans, antibiotics are used to treat animals. They are also health tools. But contrary to human health, in the breeding, one manages a medicine of population. When you have two sick animals in a herd, you can not just focus on these animals, you have to anticipate, which sometimes requires antibiotics, or the breeder can suddenly find himself with 1,000 sick animals. Nor is it surprising that the tonnage of antibiotics used is higher in animal health than human health in countries that are large producers of consumer animals, such as the United States, China, India or some countries of Latin America, since antibiotics are dosed according to the weight of the individual.

What about antibiotics used to promote the growth of animals? Should we ban them everywhere?

ME: For antibiotics used as growth factors, this allows productivity gains, and therefore there is obviously an economic factor. They not only save time in growth but also increase the uniformity of animals. The countries of the European Union have banned them for years, but not the United States or China, for example. In the WHO Global Plan of Action on Resistance to Antibiotics adopted by WHO and in close collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the OIE, there is an agreement to consider that this use is not prudent and therefore to go towards a very great reduction, or even an exit of this type of use. But there is a resistance of the sector, because many breeders fear that the chopper falls without there being phases of adaptation. You can not ask them to stop overnight. It must be shown that another way of doing things is feasible and economically viable.

Antibiotic Resistance

What other measures do you recommend to reduce their use?

ME: The reduction is possible. As in the case of human health, antibiotics must not be automatic: in the case of a disease, a more precise diagnosis must be made in order to know which antibiotic to use or to dispense with, to think about vaccination programs and also have good hygiene practices - hygiene in milking, hygiene when introducing animals into a farm. It's a job to do with the breeder's veterinarian. It is also much a long-term piece of information, hence the importance of the political impulse. If we want to be sustainable, we must demonstrate pedagogy, a pedagogy that demonstrates to the breeders that what can be done tomorrow will be better than what is done today. [source]

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