Antimicrobial use and resistance, a polarizing and often misunderstood issue, is addressed in a new white paper released Wednesday and developed by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
The paper contains a synopsis of presentations given by 13 human health, animal health and environmental health scientists and professionals and the results of four interactive sessions involving all attendees at the organization's November symposium on antimicrobials.
"This White Paper takes the complex subject of antimicrobial use and resistance and breaks it down into issues that need to be addressed, factors that need to be considered and actions that need to be taken in order to improve human, environmental and animal health," symposium co-chair Leah C. Dorman, DVM, said.
The paper also includes a timeline of antibiotic development, use in human medicine, and topics addressed during the conference.
Dr. Jennifer Koeman, Director of Producer and Public Health for the National Pork Board and symposium co-chair, encourages individuals to share the antimicrobial use and resistance symposium White Paper with constituents within agriculture as well as those outside of agriculture.
"This White Paper can be used as a tool to further engage in open dialogue with all stakeholders, strive towards adopting a One Health mindset and move toward consensus on a path forward," Koeman said.
Antibiotics in agriculture have become a point of contention between many stakeholders, including consumer advocacy groups. This fall at the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Food Dialogues New York, a panel of ag and non-ag stakeholders debated the topic. Arguments ranged from feasibility of an antibiotic-free supply chain to antibiotic resistance.
Additionally, U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman and Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., both proposed legislation regarding antibiotic use in agriculture last year – evidence the issue will linger a bit longer.
"Antimicrobial resistance is not a black-and-white issue. Antimicrobial resistance is complex and is more than science and evidence," the paper says. "It is about politics, behavior, economics and conflicting opinions. And it is not merely a consequence of use; it is a consequence of use and misuse, with each community—animal health, human health and environmental health—responsible for antibiotic stewardship."
For more on the issue, and to read the entire white paper, visit www.animalagriculture.org. You can also view many of symposium's PowerPoint presentations and hear the audio in full at the website above.