The global feed firm, Nutreco, has called for alternative strategies to be developed to reduce antibiotic use in food production.
Speaking after attending this week’s UN meeting on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in New York, the company’s CEO, Knut Nesse, said he believed antibiotic use can be reduced significantly on a global scale but that a holistically integrated approach based on farm, feed and health management is needed to make that happen.
He also said that Nutreco is already developing and validating new feed additives that support animal health and performance, as its part in the search for AMR solutions.
“We face an immense challenge to feed a growing world population, while at the same time the environmental pressure on the planet must be halved,” he said, adding that more food will need to be produced with less resources.
“The urgency of antibiotic resistance now adds another challenge to it. It is inevitable that we must reduce the amount of antibiotics used in food production significantly. We can only achieve this if we redirect our focus to alternative strategies.”
Nutreco, he added, is committed to conducting anticipatory research and is currently validating new, non-antibiotic feed additives and functional diets that are one of the key factors in reducing antibiotic use.
Mr Nesse, also pointed to experiences in Norway and the Netherlands which demonstrate that cross-sectoral collaboration involving farmers, veterinarians, government, science and industry can reduce the use of antibiotics in food production significantly.
“Antibiotic use in Norwegian salmon farming has come down by 99% since 1990,” he said. “In livestock farming in the Netherlands, today 58% less antibiotics are used compared to 2009. In both examples productivity remained equal or even improved.
“A very substantial part of antibiotics is used on farms routinely or to overcome suboptimal conditions. With a holistically integrated approach based on farm, feed and health management, antibiotic use can be reduced significantly – with equal or even better productivity.
“First and foremost this requires a change in mindset. By learning from best practices and focusing on alternative strategies, we can help farmers in feeding a growing world population using less resources as well as less antibiotics.”
The Nutreco CEO concluded with a company commitment to four areas in which he believes regulatory action needs to be taken. They are:
- Setting antibiotic reduction targets in food production without back doors.
- Creating transparency by improving the monitoring of antibiotic use in food production and the surveillance of antibiotic resistance.
- Redirecting part of the innovation focus and funding to alternatives including nutritional solutions, robust animals, precision livestock farming and farmers’ advice.
- Adapting the regulatory framework so that health and performance attributes of nutritional solutions are acknowledged and recognised.