Toronto Star

Is Antibiotic Use in Livestock a Threat to Human Health?

- 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.”

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 ??  ?? Michel Fortin President & CEO, Prevtec Microbia
Michel Fortin President & CEO, Prevtec Microbia

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