Antibiotics in animal production, future perspectives and alternatives
The use of antibiotics in animal production is a controversial topic of discussion for a long time. Many discussions have been generated continuously regarding the use and prohibition of antibiotics in animal production, as well as the repercussions and alternatives in each case.
An important point throughout this long term discussion was the prohibition of the use of antibiotic growth promoters or AGPs in the European Union a few years ago. Although exists a controversy regarding the reason for its prohibition, this decision is based on the danger derived from the use of these substances for its ability to generate cross resistance with antibiotics used in human medicine, and of course this statement causes this controversy.
On the one hand AGPs are beneficial for animal production. They have multiple effects and functions in organisms, which could be summarized as a reduction of diseases in animals and an increase in the improvement of the digestibility and utilization of food and nutrients, simultaneously improving the productive parameters. Therefore, as a final consequence, production costs allow the reasonable price and favor the accessibility of food to consumers.
On the other hand, the worry and growing emergence of cross-resistance has generated rejection of AGPs from many social and scientific sectors. The process of generation of resistance is unavoidable as a result of continued use and low doses of antibiotics, since a selection of bacteria resistant to them is made, with a subsequent transmission of the genes that cause these resistances to other bacteria, so that the resistance is established quickly.
All this has led to the prohibition of these antibiotics growth promoters in the European Union, and it is expected that the ban will also be extended to the rest of the geographical areas.
Also the prohibition is defended due to a growing concern for aspects related to human health with respect to the appearance of the alarming bacterial resistance. It is also defended that the costs of production and final product will increase, and that the non-use of AGP will cause a higher incidence of pathologies that will have to be treated clinically instead of preventively. In addition, there is also the opinion that there are no reliable studies on the generation of such resistances.
Regardless of the perspective, the certain thing is that the political will, as well as of many sectors of the population and the scientific community, is to maintain this prohibition.
For now this does not seem to be the end of the discussion regarding the future of antibiotics in animal production. On October 7, 2017, many media comunicacted a new request from WHO that animals for human consumption do not receive antibiotics to stimulate their growth or to prevent diseases. The WHO considers that the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is one of the biggest health challenges today. Thus, they have quoted that “the scientific evidence shows that the excessive use of antibiotics in animals can contribute to the emergence of resistance to antibiotics” and that “healthy animals should only receive antibiotics to prevent diseases that have been diagnosed in other animals of their same flock or in a fish population”they affirm.
All the succession of past and present events point to more restrictive measures every time regarding the use of antibiotics, and inevitably a question arises regarding the alternatives to antibiotics in animal production, since a solution is needed that allows to maintain good production and health levels in the farms, and to guarantee profitability.
Currently, an alternative is the use of food additives based on substances of natural origin, pronutrients, which stimulate the physiology of animals so that they can react against the infections and high productive pressures without the need for the use of substances with pharmacological effects. In this regard Biovet S.A. with its Alquernat product line, choose pronutrients as the effective alternative to the use of antibiotics in animal production. The pronutrients are an integrated alternative, accepted and distributed throughout the world, since their effectiveness is demonstrated through multiple tests in universities and animal farms around the world, with very good health and productive results. They are therefore a real alternative that was launched with the aim of improving efficiency in health and animal production and anticipate the problems arising from the use of substances with pharmacological action, which produce so many negative side effects.