Former Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens is joining the RUMA’s (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture) Independent Scientific Group.
Mr Gibbens, who retired this month after 10 years as Defra’s CVO, will sit alongside other eminent researchers and scientists from the veterinary, medical and microbiological field, providing insight and recommendations to inform RUMA’s policy on the responsible use of medicines in farm animals.
Professor Gibbens said he had been very impressed with recent progress made by the UK livestock sectors on reducing, refining or replacing use of antibiotics. But he said it was now time to look forward to the next steps, and how science can support further efforts to reduce on-farm antimicrobial use.
“The UK livestock sectors are to be congratulated for responding to the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, especially in working with the Targets Task Force to set challenging targets for antibiotic use through to 2020,” he said.
“Delivering those targets is going to rest on the principle of rearing healthier, more resilient animals. This means that while antimicrobial resistance is an important threat, tackling it is also a significant opportunity to make long term sustainable changes which could raise UK farm animal health and welfare to a new level.”
He said a strong evidence base around antibiotic use, and health and welfare improvements for our farmed livestock, should be integral to the stated aspirations within the Government’s Command Paper on the future of food and farming.
“RUMA’s ongoing leadership in AMR mitigation through excellent animal husbandry in all production systems can help to differentiate UK produce and elevate its reputation post Brexit,” he said.
“But to achieve this, and other goals, we need sound science to underpin all the decisions we make. Sitting on the Independent Scientific Group is a great opportunity to do just that – use the knowledge and insight that I’ve been fortunate to acquire in over 30 years as a Government veterinary officer.”
RUMA’s Independent Scientific Group, now comprises:
- Professor David Barrett, Professor of Bovine Medicine, Production and Reproduction at University of Bristol (deputised by Dr Kristen Reyher, Senior Lecturer in Farm Animal Science at University of Bristol);
- Dr Ian Brown, Consultant Clinical Research Fellow at Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals and Chairman of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Animal Feedstuffs;
- Professor Mark Fielder, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Kingston University;
- Professor Nigel Gibbens, consultant with Itinerant Vets Ltd;
- Mr Daniel Parker, avian expert for UK government, technical advisor to the British Poultry Council and lecturer at Cambridge University Veterinary School;
- Dr Shabbir Simjee, Technical Advisor in Microbiology & Antimicrobials, Elanco Animal Health;
- Mr Martin Smith, Lead Veterinary Surgeon, British Quality Pigs.