Is An­tibi­otic Use in Live­stock a Threat to Hu­man Health?

Toronto Star - - MEDIA PLANET - San­dra Mac­Gre­gor

Over the past decade, there has been a grow­ing con­cern world­wide about the overuse of an­tibi­otics and the ef­fect it has on cre­at­ing an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance (AMR). This phe­nom­e­non oc­curs when bac­te­ria be­come re­sis­tant to an­tibi­otics. The overuse of an­tibi­otics in both medicine and an­i­mal farm­ing is thought to con­trib­ute to this re­sis­tance. It’s an is­sue of grow­ing con­cern be­cause the fear is that bac­te­ria will be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to com­bat and could evolve into “su­per bugs” — pow­er­ful bac­te­ria that cause se­vere, life-threat­en­ing ill­ness.

Even the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) has de­clared that AMR is a se­ri­ous global threat. While there is some de­bate among sci­en­tists, many feel that an­tibi­otic use in farm an­i­mals raised for hu­man con­sump­tion plays a key role in in­creas­ing an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance in hu­mans. In fact, in 2017 the WHO rec­om­mended that “farm­ers and the food in­dus­try [should] stop us­ing an­tibi­otics rou­tinely to pro­mote growth and pre­vent dis­ease in healthy an­i­mals.”

In­creas­ing food and an­i­mal safety

Prevtec Mi­cro­bia, a Canadian biotech­nol­ogy com­pany that de­vel­ops vac­cines and other tech­nolo­gies for live­stock health, also takes the threat of AMR se­ri­ously and hopes to lessen the farm­ing in­dus­try’s re­liance on an­tibi­otics.

“The vac­cines we make for farm an­i­mals rely on bi­o­log­i­cal tech­nolo­gies rather than an­tibi­otics,” ex­plains Michel Fortin, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Prevtec Mi­cro­bia. “I to­tally sup­port the WHO rec­om­men­da­tion, con­sid­er­ing an­tibi­otic re­sis­tance is a risk for hu­mans. It’s the right thing to do for the planet.”

Many meat pro­duc­ers and gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions see the value of an an­tibi­otic-free so­lu­tion to meat man­age­ment. Ap­prox­i­mately 20 to 25 per­cent of pigs in Canada are vac­ci­nated with Prevtec Mi­cro­bia vac­cines, and the com­pany has just an­nounced that five mil­lion doses of its vac­cine Colipro­tec® F4/F18 have been sold to the Euro­pean Union for use in pig farm­ing. “What also makes Colipro­tec spe­cial is that the vac­cine is ad­min­is­tered to the piglets through drink­ing wa­ter. So, it’s not an in­jec­tion, which is less stress­ful for the an­i­mals and bet­ter for an­i­mal health over­all,” says Fortin. “It’s part of a grow­ing trend that sup­ports food safety and an­i­mal well­ness.”

Prevtec Mi­cro­bia’s over­all goal is to pre­vent dis­ease in live­stock, con­tribut­ing to a re­duc­tion in the farm­ing in­dus­try’s re­liance on an­tibi­otics. “By work­ing with vet­eri­nar­i­ans, pro­duc­ers, and reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties,” he says, “we want to con­trib­ute to the avail­abil­ity of safe, good qual­ity prod­ucts that are af­ford­able and sus­tain­able.”

Michel Fortin Pres­i­dent & CEO, Prevtec Mi­cro­bia

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