July 7, 2017
Nutreco CEO pleads for new strategies in fight against antimicrobial resistance
"Nutritional solutions are the first line of defence in keeping animals healthy and productive, and will play a pivotal role in drastically reducing the need and use of antibiotics in food production. But it requires a change in the mind-set of the global industry, as well as resolute regulatory support", he told the conference with the theme "Scientific, Human Health, Husbandry and Socio-Economic Aspects of Antibacterial Resistance: Time to Act" on Wednesday, June 28.
In addition to speakers from the key health and food safety organisations and authorities, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), several industry representatives shared their views on what is universally considered as one of the greatest threats to public health today.
Nesse said that if left unchecked, as was highlighted by one of the speakers, the growing demand for animal protein would lead to a massive 217% increase of antibiotic use in food production by 2030. The vast majority of antibiotics in food production are used for non-curative purposes, making a drastic reduction of antibiotic use in farming both crucial and inevitable, he added.
"The animal nutrition industry plays a pivotal role in reducing the need for antibiotics", explained Nesse in his presentation. "We need to make a fundamental change in farming practices by moving towards a new model based on integrated feed, farm and health management."
Nutreco, he said, strongly believes in multi-stakeholder collaboration, adding that the company is investing vast resources in research and validation of nutrition based solutions that substantially reduce the need for antibiotics.
In his presentation, Nesse highlighted actual results demonstrating that the use of antibiotics can be drastically reduced while maintaining performance, irrespective of geography or industry maturity. He presented three business cases that not only prove that up to 99% of antibiotic-free production can be reached, but that profitability can be retained or even increased. This is vital for the commitment of producers to a feed-farm-health approach.
'No silver bullet'
"There is no silver bullet. Each and every time, the solution requires a close cooperation between all the stakeholders and a careful analysis of the situation", he said.
He said resolute regulatory support is required to accelerate the change and motivate the food industry to move in the right direction. Last year Nutreco identified four priorities for regulatory leadership:
1. Improving transparency through monitoring antibiotic use in food production and the surveillance of antibiotic resistance;
2. Setting ambitious reduction targets without back doors;
3. Funding research into non-antibiotic (nutrition based) alternatives; and
4. A suitable regulatory framework for nutritional solutions, including the possibility to carry the label claim "promoting health and growth".
With the publication of the EU Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance on June 29, the European Commission expressed its desire to make the EU a best-practice region. Although containing good elements, the overall tenure of the Action Plan understates the root cause of the problem: the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.
"The Action Plan does not provide the resolute regulatory support our industry needs to drastically reduce the use of antibiotics. Although there is a shared reality regarding the seriousness of antimicrobial resistance, the awareness of available nutrition based solutions appears to be insufficient", Nesse said.