November 20, 2017

USDA Chief Scientist Takes Issue With WHO Recommendations

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released recommendations regarding the use of antibiotics in agriculture. Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Acting Chief Scientist, today issued the following statement:

“The WHO guidelines are not in alignment with U.S. policy and are not supported by sound science. The recommendations erroneously conflate disease prevention with growth promotion in animals.”

“The WHO previously requested that the standards for on-farm antibiotic use in animals be updated through a transparent, consensus, science-based process of CODEX. However, before the first meeting of the CODEX was held, the WHO released these guidelines, which according to language in the guidelines are based on ‘low-quality evidence,’ and in some cases, ‘very low-quality evidence.'”

“Under current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy, medically important antibiotics should not be used for growth promotion in animals. In the U.S., the FDA allows for the use of antimicrobial drugs in treating, controlling, and preventing disease in food-producing animals under the professional oversight of licensed veterinarians. While the WHO guidelines acknowledge the role of veterinarians, they would also impose unnecessary and unrealistic constraints on their professional judgement.”

“USDA agrees that we need more data to assess progress on antimicrobial use and resistance, and we need to continue to develop alternative therapies for the treatment, control, and prevention of disease in animals. We remain committed to addressing antimicrobial resistance in people and animals. We will continue to work with the WHO, World Organization for Animal Health, and Food and Agriculture Organization to promote antibiotic stewardship to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.”

U.S. Meat Export Federation Works To Overcome Trade Uncertainties – AUDIO

Livestock producers know: There’s no shortage of red meat in the U.S. right now. The U.S. Meat Export Federation is looking at a busy year trying to get that meat out into different markets. Dennis Stiffler is the new Chair of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.  He says the American trade agenda is a little bit uncertain right now. While USMEF doesn’t deal with policy, he says there are ways the group can help overcome some of that uncertainty:

Stiffler USMEF 1

Lamb is another product that has a lot of export opportunities:

Stiffler USMEF 2

Thirty percent of the American population has never eaten lamb, with the average per capita consumption at less than one pound. American meat consumers may not realize that lamb and goat are two of the most popular sources of protein around the globe:

Stiffler USMEF 3

Stiffler says there are two strategies used to promote products like lamb and other protein sources across the globe, by either price or differentiation from similar products.

World Health Organization Calls For Ban On Preventative Antibiotics

The World Health Organization is recommending that farmers stop using antibiotics.  That’s according to a statement released by the international agency Tuesday.  The agency further said that farmers and the food production industry could reduce or eliminated the need for antibiotics all together through better hygiene, vaccinations, and improving animal housing and husbandry practices.  If possible, WHO says,  sick animals should be tested to determine which course of antibiotics would be most effective and only then should the entire herd or flock be administered medication. They also said IF antibiotics are administered, they should be chosen only from WHO’s list of least important medically important antibiotics.

In their call to action, WHO said the recommendations were a direct result of a scientific review published in The Lancet Planetary Health earlier this week.  The Lancelot Planetary Health an online scientific journal funded through The Rockefeller Foundation.  The review found that restricting antibiotic use in food animals reduced antibiotic resistance among those same animals by 39%.  WHO also cited statistics that up to 80% of medically important antibiotics are consumed by animals.  Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the recommendations were needed since “a lack of effective antibiotics is as serious a security threat as a sudden and deadly disease outbreak”.  He continued, saying “strong, sustained action across all sectors is vital if we are to turn back the tide of antimicrobial resistance and keep the world safe”.

National Pork Producer Response

The US has instituted its own controls on antibiotic use in livestock. Most notably, those controls came through the Veterinary Feed Directive that went into effect on January first of this year.  However, a wholesale halt on the administration of antibiotics in livestock has been hard to come by. The National Pork Producers Council issued a statement immediately after the WHO guidelines were released.  That statement panned the recommendations as “ill advised and wrong.” Further, the Council questioned the implications of such a move.  The statement said that “denying pigs, cows and chickens necessary antibiotics would be unethical and immoral, leading to animal suffering and possibly death, and could compromise the nation’s food system,”