Taiwan, which has a special meaning to BIOMIN, was chosen as the international stop of BIOMIN's Asia Nutrition Forum (ANF) this year.
Held in Taipei on October 26-28, the biennial series of events was also held in four other Asian cities this year - Dhaka, Delhi, Wuxi and Tokyo. The Taipei stop attracted 350 participants from 40 nationalities.
In 1985, BIOMIN bought Interpremix in Austria, its first production facility. The acquired company made the product Antitox Plus, the first-of-its-kind in binding mycotoxins. While the product was successful in the Taiwanese market, it was ironically not as effective or successful in the European market, as the profiles of the types of mycotoxins present in the two markets were different. This anecdote from BIOMIN was told by both Dr. Hannes Binder and Mr. Marc Guinnement (managing director of BIOMIN Holding GmbH and managing director of BIOMIN Asia-Pacific respectively) in their opening speeches leading up to the opening of the Taiwan forum, as it represented an important milestone for the company to continuously learn about the subject of mycotoxins and become a world leader in mycotoxin management.
Dr. Binder also spoke about the importance of the role of mycotoxin management in an increasingly antibiotic-free environment. The theme of this year's ANF was "Driving the Asian Protein Economy" and indeed, many of the presentations at the Taiwan forum discussed the opportunities and challenges an antibiotic-free environment brings to protein production.
Keynote speaker professor Theo A. Niewold from the University of Leuven, Belgium, began his presentation by introducing to the audience the roles of the systemic and mucosal immune systems, and their innate and acquired aspects of controlling inflammation which is a proposed mode of action of both antibiotics (below their therapeutic dose) and antibiotic alternatives.
As the genetic contribution of systemic inflammation has generally already been selected against for in broiler chickens, Professor Niewold stressed the increasing role that antibiotic alternatives can play in controlling intestinal inflammation, which is largely mediated by the mucosal immune system. He outlined possible mechanisms of how these alternatives can act along the intestinal anti-inflammatory reflex, while also cautioning that excessive dosage of some alternatives might in fact have detrimental effects. For example, antioxidants might in fact exhibit pro-oxidant effects when administered excessively.
Professor Nieworld also presented how the use of non-invasive in vivo biomarkers have increasingly provided evidence of the anti-inflammatory hypothesis of antibiotic alternatives.
Then later in the day's panel discussion, his advice for Asian countries is to learn from the European experience by progressing gradually along a transition phase towards antibiotic-free production and ensuring that small farmers would not be hurt by too quick a transition.
For his presentation "Probiotics as alternatives to antibiotics for treating lameness due to bacterial infections in broilers", emeritus professor Rob F. Wideman, Jr. of the University of Arkansas, started off by explaining how stressful conditions like fast growth can lead to the 'leaky' gut barrier phenomenon in young broiler chicks, eventually leading to a type of lameness known as bacterial chondronecrosis with osteomyelitis (BCO). He then suggested how probiotics can be used to prevent horizontal disease transmission in infective chicks (dubbed as 'hot chicks') through the mechanisms of competitive exclusion of pathogenic bacteria; cross-talk with microvilli to close tight junctions from entry of pathogenic bacteria; cross-talk with goblet cells to produce more mucous to protect against infection.
The next speaker in the line-up, Dr. Daniel Petri, global product line manager for microbials at BIOMIN Holding GmbH, further revealed "health secrets" of the gut, with a presentation focused on the subject of gut microbiota. He revealed that more research is needed to study the role of Candidatus arthromitus in the gut microbiota. He also added that the dominant gut microbiota does not necessarily correlate with growth performance parameters while also highlighting the importance of the ileum for immune development.
Commencing the next four presentations after lunch was Dr. Gangga Widyanugraha and Dr. Siyeong Choi, regional technical sales managers for poultry and swine respectively at BIOMIN Asia-Pacific. Their entertaining delivery of a poster review quiz through role-playing and magic performances not only chased away after-lunch sleepiness, but perhaps might have forever changed the audience perception of 'technical' people in the industry. Other presentations in the afternoon included: "Stressors to the immune system of meat-producing animals" by professor Cheol-Huei Yun of Seoul National University, South Korea; "Winning in weaning by reducing stress and scouring without antibiotics" by Dr. Ferdinand Entenfellner, an Austrian veterinarian; "Nutrient sparing - what it is and how it can improved protein utilisation" by Dr. Neil Gannon, regional product manager for gut performance at BIOMIN Asia-Pacific.
The last speaker of the Taiwan forum, Hansel D'Souza, a brand and marketing consultant, in his presentation "Meeting the protein challenge", gave a 'blue ocean' view of the future protein economy. It included an introduction into alternative 'meats' such as plant- and algae-based proteins, and ended with a video showing how the effects of global warming could literally engulf entire coastal communities in Asia, which perhaps might have neatly summed up the opportunities and challenges facing the protein industry.
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