UN Ag Agency Issues Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance in Foods
The action plan calls for raising awareness among farmers, consumers, authorities, and veterinary professionals and building national capacities for surveillance and monitoring.
The United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization has released an action plan that aims to help countries combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance in their food supply chains and counter the growing threat of medicine-resistant "superbugs."
"Antimicrobial medicines play a critical role in the treatment of diseases of farm animals and plants. Their use is essential to food security, to our well-being, and to animal welfare," FAO stated in its announcement. "However, the misuse of these drugs, associated with the emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant micro-organisms, places everyone at great risk."
The "Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance" will focus on improving awareness of antimicrobial resistance among farmers, veterinary professionals, authorities, policymakers, and consumers. It also emphasizes building national capacities for surveillance and monitoring of AMR and antimicrobial use in food and agriculture and promoting best practices.
FAO says the global use of antimicrobial substances has grown steadily during the past 50 years as animal and fish farmers increasing their use of such medicines. To a lesser degree, antimicrobial substances are spread on plant crops. They are also added in low concentrations to animal feed as a way to stimulate growth.
FAO's plan highlights four key areas for action in food and agriculture:
- Improving awareness of AMR issues
- Building national capacities for surveillance and monitoring of AMR and antimicrobial use
- Strengthening governance related to antimicrobial use and AMR in food and agriculture
- Promoting good practices in food and agricultural systems and the prudent use of antimicrobials
Estimated global antimicrobial consumption in the livestock sector is now above 60,000 tonnes per year and, with demand for animal-sourced food products projected to grow steadily in coming decades, the use of antimicrobials will continue to rise, FAO says.