News and Opinions  –  2022

ReAct Latin America: call to governments on the use of antimicrobials in intensive animal husbandry

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2022-05-24

With the aim of reducing the use of antimicrobials in intensive animal husbandry and its impacts on human and ecosystem health, the participants of the Latin American Webinar "Intensive Animal Husbandry, Animal Welfare and Antibiotic Use" signed a Call.

The Call is urging governments and members of the teams and commissions responsible for the National Action Plans on AMR, the design and implementation of policies, to limit the use of antibiotics in agri-food systems.

Intensive animal husbandry. Photo: Egor Myzink.

The Call, developed by the convening organizations in the webinar “Intensive Animal Husbandry, Animal Welfare and Antibiotic Use” hosted by ReAct Latin America, contains 12 points urging government agencies to:

  • adopt mechanisms for management and transparency of information related to antimicrobial use and antibiotic resistance
  • implement regulatory standards on the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry
  • market incentives for producers and consumers
  • improve husbandry practices and animal welfare
  • promote sustainable agri-food systems and
  • allocate funds directed to civil society to develop activities to address antimicrobial resistance

One of the main problems facing global health is the routine use of antibiotics critical to human health. Antibiotics such as colistin are being used in intensive animal husbandry as fattening promoters and prophylactic treatments, due to poor hygiene and animal welfare conditions.

Use of antimicrobial in intensive animal husbandry

The use of antimicrobials in intensive animal husbandry is also having negative impacts on the health of ecosystems. For example, disposal of waste from farms where antibiotics have been used can contaminate soils and water with antibiotic residues and resistant bacteria – thus affecting the microbial biodiversity and fueling the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Call to be delivered to governments and authorities

In the next months, several civil society organizations will deliver the Call to governments and authorities – this to seeding and scaling the One Health approach in National Action Plans on Antimicrobial Resistance.

Webinar where the Call to governments were signed

The ReAct Latin America webinar “Intensive Animal Husbandry, Animal Welfare and Antibiotic Use” was held 21-22 April and was attended by representatives of:

  • the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) regional office
  • national bodies responsible for surveillance and improvement of agricultural quality
  • animal health professionals and
  • representatives of civil society organisations.

Use of antibiotics in animal husbandry discussed

The sessions spanning over two days discussed perspectives on the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry, from animal welfare concerns to the alternative of an agro-ecological approach. The UN FAO described work underway on building an accessible data system tracking in-country indicators of antimicrobial resistance in the food system through a platform under development called InFARM, the International FAO Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System.

The challenge of ensuring the collecting and making transparent such data became clear through the example of Oceana Chile’s work on salmon aquaculture. Integrating this work into the framework of country-level National Action Plans on AMR received attention, and testimonials of how drug-resistant infections affect the lives and livelihoods of communities were also featured.

Prudent and responsible use of antimicrobials in food production

OIE also spoke to the issue of responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials in food production. On-the-ground projects, from “Gallinas Libres” or “Free Hens” in Ecuador to an agro-ecological approach from a university garden project, demonstrated how communities and local food systems were responding to this challenge.  Musical performances opened and closed the event, which ended with a song over Sumak Kawsay, an indigenous concept from the Quechua phrase of “good living” by living in harmony with community and nature.

The webinar co-organizers included the Socio-environmental Health Institute of the National University of Rosario in Argentina, Red CALISAS – a Network on Food Rights in Latin America and World Animal Protection.