A new multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional group, The Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance in Production Agriculture, has been formed to advise the U.S. Government on research and provide information to the public about antibiotics in agriculture, Oklahoma State University announced this week.
Created by The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, the task force is comprised of representatives from U.S. agricultural and veterinary medicine colleges, land-grant universities, the production animal agriculture community and the pharmaceutical industry.
Officials from federal agencies are expected to serve as observers to the task force and leaders from public universities in Mexico and Canada will serve as ex officio members, as will representatives of the APLU and AAVMC.
"The collective expertise and experience of its members will allow the task force to serve as a knowledgeable source of information and insight," says task force member Thomas Coon, vice president, dean and director of OSU's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
The task force was developed just as antibiotic resistance questions have begun to surface more frequently; the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have both expressed concerns about some bacteria having developed defenses against different classes of antibiotic compounds.
In addition, President Obama in September issued an executive order directing various executive branch departments and agencies to develop a specific plan of action to address the issue by mid-February.
It's a broad discussion, but Dr. Jean Sander, DVM, MAM, DACPV, dean of OSU's Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, says agriculture leaders must determine first how the industry fits in.
"As leaders in agricultural animal production and well-being, we must provide sound and appropriate care when considering the use of antibiotics in rearing animals for food production," she said, "keeping in mind that the problem did not develop solely as the result of antibiotic use in animals."
Sander added antibiotics are developed from naturally occurring substances in the environment and contact of bacteria in that environment may result in some level of resistance even without use in animals.
"Also, the use of these medications in human medicine to treat viral diseases that are not affected by antibiotics must be included as part of a holistic approach to any regulations in this area," she said. "To accurately define the scope of this problem, all antibiotic use must be reviewed."
News source: OSU