What's in the news right now about environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable beef value chain.


Executive Director's Message

Last week was antibiotic awareness week and no doubt you will have seen articles in your news and social media feeds from OIE, FAO, WHO and a host of other organisations that are working on the subject of antimicrobial stewardship and how to keep antibiotics effective and curb increases in antimicrobial resistance in bacteria.

I attended the 8th NIAA Antibiotic Symposium in Kansas city where I presented GRSB and our Statement on Antimicrobial Stewardship. We heard from a host of leading US experts in fields related to use of antimicrobials in animals for food production, as well as epidemiology of resistance and One Health experts covering the overlap between human, environmental and animal health.

A number of our members presented including Elanco and McDonald's, as well as USRSB members, including Tyson. One of the conclusions that I drew from the event, which was well organised and impressive in the number and high level of the presenters, was that there is really a huge amount happening in this field.

We desperately need to share more, as even as policies are being made in one part of the chain or at government level, it is clear that the discussion is not always with as broad a cross–section of industry as it should be. Our Statement on Antimicrobial Stewardship and Q&A were released in June, and it is clear that they will need periodic review, as this is an area that is developing fast in developed countries.

At the same time, we should be aware of the challenges faced in developing countries, because while "a total of 67 countries report at least having legislation in place to control all aspects of production, licensing and distribution of antimicrobials for use in animals, a further 56 either said that they had no national policy or legislation regarding the quality, safety and efficacy of antimicrobial products used in animal and plant health, and their distribution, sale or use, or that they were unable to report whether they have these policies in place. Supporting low– and middle–income countries to follow guidance of responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials in animals is an urgent priority," says Dr Matthew Stone, Deputy Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

"Implementation of dedicated OIE international standards, appropriate national legislation and strengthening of veterinary services are essential steps to help all animal health stakeholders contribute to controlling the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance."

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

Antimicrobial Stewardship

FDA May Change Drug Uses in 5–Year Plan
Greg Cima, AVMA News | November 14, 2018
Federal authorities plan to expand limits on who can buy antimicrobials for use in livestock and how long they can be used. Authorities also will increase monitoring of antimicrobial use and resistance in agriculture and promote antimicrobial stewardship across veterinary medicine.

Under the Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine's plan published this fall, "Supporting antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary settings: Goals for fiscal years 2019–2023," farmers would need a prescription or a similar veterinary feed directive to access any of the antimicrobials that are in drug classes shared with human medicine. Agency officials also plan to develop recommended treatment times for those drugs for which guidance is absent.

The plan is a continuation of agency efforts to require veterinarian oversight of antimicrobials that are in the same drug classes as those used in human medicine. Under threat of regulatory action, pharmaceutical companies agreed to comply with an agency plan that removed over–the–counter access to such drugs delivered in feed and water.

What's Next for Antibiotics in Agriculture?
NIAA, Drovers | November 5, 2017
Antibiotics use in animal agriculture has received increased media attention in recent weeks. Some sources call for less use in livestock, but solving antibiotic resistance problems isn't that simple, says Dr. Bob Smith, longtime beef veterinarian, professor and speaker.

"Throughout the years, I think in both human medicine and veterinary medicine, we've assumed that we can continue to use antibiotics as we always have and that they will always be there and always be effective for us," he says. Not so. Rather, he says, the future of effective antibiotics isn't certain for humans nor animals. Doctors and veterinarians are seeing resistance issues surface with increasing frequency. He began noticing a concerning trend beginning in the late 2000s.

See NIAA's whole series on antibiotics here.

Antibiotic Use in Canadian Feedlots
Reynold Bergen, Canadian Cattlemen | November 9, 2018
September's column summarized a Beef Cluster project that evaluated antibiotic use in western Canadian cow–calf operations. Nearly all cow–calf farms used antibiotics, but very few animals were treated, and most of the antibiotics used were not related to the antibiotics most commonly used in humans. But when it comes to antibiotic use in the beef industry, most of the attention is focused on the feedlot sector.

Until recently, the best Canadian feedlot antibiotic use information came from a small 2006 project (Antimicrobial Resistance in Escherichia coli Recovered from Feedlot Cattle and Associations with Antimicrobial Use, PLoS ONE 10: e0143995). Antibiotic use practices change over time, so a Beef Science Cluster 2 project updated and expanded this knowledge.

Should the Meat Industry Cut Out Antibiotics?
Ashley Williams, Global Meat News | November 16, 2018
This week marked World Antibiotic Awareness Week – a subject that has divided markets in meat production due to different views and regulations.

"Like humans, animals sometimes need antibiotics to fight off bacterial infections. Without Antibiotics animal welfare and health would be severely impacted" said New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industry's Allan Kinsella.

Europe Votes to Restrict Animal Antibiotics as UK Use Drops
Chris Dall, CIDRAP News | October 25, 2018
The new European law would limit the use of antibiotics to prevent disease (prophylactic use) to individual animals, and only in cases where a veterinarian believes there is a high risk of infection or its consequences are likely to be severe, according to a European Parliament press release.

Metaphylactic use (treating a group of animals when only one shows signs of infection) should be a last resort, according to the measure, and should only occur when a veterinarian has diagnosed an infection and believes there is a high risk of the infection spreading.

Elanco Announces Collaboration Agreement with Novozymes for Nutritional Health Innovation
Business Wire | November 02, 2018
Elanco Animal Health Incorporated announced today a new global R&D collaboration with Novozymes A/S (OMX: NZYM B), the world leader in biological solutions, to develop nutritional health products for beef cattle and dairy cows globally. Identifying and developing new products and tools to help manage the animal's microbiome, control infections, and reduce gut inflammation while decreasing the need for medically important antibiotics is a top priority for Elanco.

As part of Elanco's 8–point Antibiotic Stewardship Plan released in 2015, Elanco aims to deliver a total of 25 viable antibiotic alternative development projects by 2020 that address critical unmet challenges in livestock production and reduce the need for shared–class antibiotics that are also critical to human medicine. To date, Elanco has identified and added 16 alternative development projects to its pipeline.

Doctors and Vets Working Together for Antibiotic Stewardship
Ingrid Torjesen, the bmj
A study led by Stuart Reid, principal of the Royal Veterinary College, of Salmonella typhimurium DT104 in humans and animals found much greater diversity in humans, indicating that it was unlikely that resistance in human isolates originated in animals, Reid said.5 A subsequent larger study found that most of the salmonella DT104 in humans was distinct from that in animals.

Antibiotic resistant infections seem less common in veterinary practice in the UK, although Bellini admitted that vets rarely test for it. However, her practice stopped using third and fourth generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolone almost two years ago and hasn't had a case since that required their use because the animals had not responded to other antibiotics.

More bedside and penside diagnostics would help in both detecting and treating resistant infections, the group agreed.


Why Soil Matters
Like any relationship, our living soil needs our tenderness. It's time we changed everything we thought we knew about soil.

Living Soil is a 60–minute documentary about hashtag#soil health featuring innovative hashtag#farmers and soil health experts. In an effort to educate the general public about the benefits of soil health, the hashtag#documentary with be accompanied by a hashtag#soilhealth curricula designed for high school and college students.

To learn about the relationship of cattle with soil health, have a look, particularly around the 38 minute point in this video.

Why Cows Are Getting a Bad Rap in Lab–Grown Meat Debate
Alison Van Eenennaam, The Conversation
The idea of "industrial replacement of biological functions" emphasizes the point that nature has already developed a fully functional biological fermentation bioreactor for the conversion of inedible solar–powered cellulosic material, such as grass, into high–quality protein. It is called a cow. Ruminants have evolved, along with their large vat of rumen microbes, to digest cellulose, an insoluble carbohydrate, that is the main constituent of plant cell. That is their super power.

It does comes with the trade–off that methanogenic bacteria are required to perform this conversion and they produce methane, a greenhouse gas, that is subsequently burped up (eructated) by the cow.

Tropical Deforestation: Where's The Beef?
Innovation Forum | November 16, 2018
Increasing demand is driving beef–sector growth in the Amazon and elsewhere – and a shift in market incentives, alongside technology and innovation, appear necessary to slow deforestation.

As with other forest commodities, when high–profile developed economy brands do the right thing – to engage with 'legal' deforestation or avoid sourcing from an area altogether to remove the risk – it doesn't mean the problem is solved. Demand from other markets, where expectations are lower, means unsustainable practices can continue unabated. Most of Brazil's beef exports end up in markets such as Russia, China, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, with EU exports amounting to less than 3% of the total, for example.

Technology and changing farming methods can, however, ease this pressure – by better use of already–cleared land. "Brazil has done the most to tackle deforestation – and has certainly demonstrated that it is possible to decouple expansion of the beef industry from deforestation through intensification of pasture management,"While land owners have a legal right to convert some land – in Paraguay, for example, the government actively supports the conversion of the Chaco claiming it as an economic imperative – there is little incentive to keep forests standing at all."

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