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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Silent Issue of antibiotic use in Agriculture and Animal Husbandry

Contributed by: Siddarth D & Dr. Tamhankar

While there is substantial global pressure on rationalizing  antibiotic use in humans across the world, antibiotic use in animals is seldom touched upon. The "Review on Antimicrobial Resistance" commissioned in the UK by the Prime Minister to boost awareness of the economic issues surrounding the development, spread and containment of antimicrobial resistance, recently published a report placing a lot of the onus on the animal husbandry and agriculture sectors for development of antimicrobial resistance in animals that can be passed on to human beings.

The report states that while the use of antibiotics in agricultural animals is expected to double between 2010 and 2030 on average, the use of agricultural antibiotics improves animal growth rates by less than five percent. The report calls for global targets and standards to reduce antibiotic use in agriculture as well as critical improvements in the surveillance of antibiotic use in agriculture.

The report though not a scientific document, it does lay the foundations of evolving consensus in policy to address the issue of resistance in agriculture which is till yet to fully studied and acknowledged. It is also a call to other countries like India to conduct its own research and come up with policies to address the challenge of antimicrobial resistance in agriculture which is a real issue that is largely silent up till now.