FAO plan aims to tackle antibiotic resistance in food and agriculture sectors


Citing the growing threat posed by the overuse of antimicrobials to the food and agricultural sectors, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today released a new plan to five-year action on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

As the world is expected to produce as much food in the next 30 years as it has in the last 10,000 years, and the use of antimicrobials in livestock is expected to double to meet demand, FAO says it is Now is the time to help countries build capacity to manage AMR risks in the food and agriculture sectors. This will not only save time for the discovery and development of new drugs, the agency argues, but will also help build more sustainable and resilient food systems.

Released in conjunction with Global Antimicrobial Awareness Week, the plan argues that the widespread use of antimicrobials in livestock, plants and fish is contributing to the emergence of drug-resistant pathogens that affect human health. , animals and the environment, and curbing this will be a crucial aspect of the fight against AMR.

“Resistance is already making certain diseases in humans, livestock and plants increasingly difficult or impossible to treat,” FAO said in the document. “It undermines modern medicine, compromises animal production and destabilizes food security.”

Key objectives and activities

The plan of action is built around five key goals that FAO says will help countries reduce the prevalence of AMR, slow the emergence and spread of resistance throughout the food chain, and help countries reduce the prevalence of AMR. preserve the ability to treat sick animals with safe and effective antibiotics. Objectives include raising awareness and engaging stakeholders, strengthening surveillance and research on antimicrobial resistance, establishing good practices to minimize infections in livestock, promoting responsible use antimicrobials in food production and strengthening governance and resource allocation.

The plan also describes the activities that will help achieve these goals. To help raise awareness, for example, FAO and its partners will help develop global, regional and national strategies for advocacy campaigns and risk communication. To strengthen surveillance, FAO announced it will expand the deployment of its Laboratory Assessment Tool and Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (FAO-ATLASS), which helps harmonize and coordinate resistance to antimicrobial resistance. antimicrobials from the food and agricultural sectors in different countries.

Other activities include the development and revision of international standards for the prudent use of antimicrobials in food and agriculture, the development of guidelines for better management of animal diseases in major food production sectors, support governments and professional societies in their efforts to train and educate food producers, and help countries strengthen regulations on the use of antimicrobials in food production and implement and monitor national action plans One Health AMR.

FAO says activities will cover all sectors of food production and address the use of antimicrobials in livestock, aquaculture and crops.

“FAO’s action plan serves as a roadmap to focus global efforts on antimicrobial resistance in the food and agriculture sectors,” the agency says. “Protecting food and health systems is a common need of our global society. “

Increased focus on antimicrobial resistance in food, ag

FAO’s action plan is the latest step taken by international organizations to tackle the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in food production. This follows a statement released in August by the World Leaders’ Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, a group created by the FAO, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). to provide political leadership. on AMR.

The statement called on all countries to stop using antimicrobials – especially those essential for human medicine – for promoting growth in food-producing animals, and to reduce the need for antimicrobials in food-producing animals. food producing animals by improving infection prevention and control, hygiene, and biosecurity.

In 2017, WHO published guidelines recommending complete restriction of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals for growth promotion and disease prevention.

FAO says further action is needed in the food and agriculture sector as the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials has contributed to the exponential growth of resistant microorganisms in livestock and the increasing prevalence in aquatic animals, plants and the environment. These pathogens can then spread to humans through direct contact and indirectly through the food chain.

Several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and member states of the European Union, have taken action to regulate and limit the use of antimicrobials in the food and agriculture sectors in recent years. years. In the UK, a recent report found that these efforts have resulted in a 52% drop in sales of antibiotics to livestock since 2014.

But many countries have limited regulations on the use of antibiotics in food production, and some have none. A recent survey by WHO, OIE and FAO found that 77% of countries regulate the prescription and sale of antibiotics for food animals, and only 63% have laws prohibiting the use of antibiotics. use of antibiotics to stimulate growth. And in many low- and middle-income countries where demand for meat is expected to increase in the coming years, enforcement of these laws is lax.

The WHO estimates that antibiotics purchased for use in food animals represent up to 80% of all antibiotics sold in some countries.

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