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Antimicrobial Drugs Threaten Global Food Security —FAO

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has admonished global leaders on the need to urgently reduce significantly, the use of antimicrobial drugs in global food systems.

According to a report published on FAO’s website, without immediate and drastic action to significantly reduce levels of antimicrobial use in food systems, the world is rapidly heading towards a tipping point where the antimicrobials relied on to treat infections in humans, animals and plants will no longer be effective.

FAO maintaining that the impact on local and global health systems, economies, food security and food systems will be devastating.

“We cannot tackle rising levels of antimicrobial resistance without using antimicrobial drugs more sparingly across all sectors. The world is in a race against antimicrobial resistance, and it is one that we cannot afford to lose,” the co-chair Global Leader Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, Mia Amor Mottley said.

FAO added that consumers in all countries can play a key role by choosing food products from producers that use antimicrobial drugs responsibly, pointing out the urgent need for investment to develop effective alternatives to antimicrobial use in food production, such as vaccines and alternative drugs.

Also, Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance called upon all countries to significantly reduce the levels of antimicrobial drugs used in global food systems.

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“This includes stopping the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs to promote growth in healthy animals and using antimicrobial drugs more sparingly overall, “they said.

The call coming ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit, which takes place in New York on 23 September 2021 where countries will discuss ways to transform global food systems.

The Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance includes heads of state, government ministers, and leaders from private sector and civil society from 22 countries. The group was established in November 2020 to accelerate global political momentum, leadership and action on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and is co-chaired by Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, and Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

FAO said a top priority call to action is to use antimicrobial drugs more sparingly in food systems and markedly reduce the use of drugs that are of greatest importance to treating diseases in humans, animals and plants.

Other key calls to action for all countries include ending the use of antimicrobial drugs that are of critical importance to human medicine to promote growth in animals; limiting the amount of antimicrobial drugs administered to prevent infection in healthy animals and plants and ensuring that all use is performed with regulatory oversight and eliminating or significantly reducing over-the-counter sales of antimicrobial drugs that are important for medical or veterinary purposes.

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FAO also urged nations to reduce the overall need for antimicrobial drugs by improving infection prevention and control, hygiene, biosecurity and vaccination programmes in agriculture and aquaculture and ensure access to quality and affordable antimicrobials for animal and human health and promoting innovation of evidence based and sustainable alternatives to antimicrobials in food systems.

Antimicrobial drugs- (including antibiotics, antifungals and antiparasitics)- are used in food production all over the world. Antimicrobial drugs are administered to animals not only for veterinary purposes to treat and prevent disease, but also to promote growth in healthy animals.

Antimicrobial pesticides are also used in agriculture to treat and prevent diseases in plants. Sometimes antimicrobials used in food systems are the same as or similar to those used to treat humans. Current usage in humans, animals and plants is fueling an alarming rise in drug-resistance and making infections harder to treat. Climate change may also be contributing to an increase in antimicrobial resistance, ”FAO added.

Source: thisday

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