Global leaders and experts today called for a significant and urgent reduction in the amounts of antimicrobial drugs, including antibiotics, used in food systems recognizing this as critical to combatting rising levels of drug resistance.
The Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance– today called upon all countries to significantly reduce the levels of antimicrobial drugs used in global food systems. This includes stopping the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs to promote growth in healthy animals and using antimicrobial drugs more responsibly overall.
The call comes 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. The group was established in November 2020 to accelerate global political momentum, leadership and action on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and is co-chaired by their Excellencies Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, and Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
Reducing the use of antimicrobials in food systems is key to conserving their effectiveness
The Global Leaders Group’s statement calls for bold action from all countries and leaders across sectors to tackle drug resistance.
A top priority call to action is to use antimicrobial drugs more responsibily 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:
Inaction will have dire consequences for human, animal, plant and environmental health
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 leading to a concerning rise in drug-resistance and making infections harder to treat. Climate change may also be contributing to an increase in antimicrobial resistance.
Drug-resistant diseases already cause at least 700,000 human deaths globally every year.
Whilst there have been substantial reductions in antibiotic use in animals globally, further reductions are needed.
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. 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” says co-chair of the Global Leader Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, Her Excellency Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados. “The world is in a race against antimicrobial resistance, and it’s one that we cannot afford to lose.’
Reducing the use of antimicrobial drugs in food systems must be a priority for all countries
“Using antimicrobial drugs more responsibly in food systems needs to be a top priority for all countries” says Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance co-chair Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. “Collective action across all relevant sectors is crucial to protect our most precious medicines, for the benefit of everyone, everywhere.”
Consumers in all countries can play a key role by choosing food products from producers that use antimicrobial drugs responsibly.
Investors can also contribute by investing in sustainable food systems.
Investment is also urgently needed to develop effective alternatives to antimicrobial use in food systems, such as vaccines and alternative drugs.
Notes to Editors:
For interviews with members of the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance and further information please contact: Email: [email protected]
Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance statement on Antimicrobial Use in Food Systems
Antimicrobial use in food systems is common and has an influence on antimicrobial resistance in humans, animals, plants and the environment. Applying a One Health approach, there is a critical need to transform food systems to optimize animal, plant and environmental health, ensure responsible and sustainable antimicrobial use and most importantly, reduce the need to use antimicrobials and promote innovation for evidence-based and sustainable alternatives.
Antimicrobials are important for animal health and welfare and plant production and access to quality and affordable antimicrobials needs to be ensured. However, changes to the current situation are urgently required. While there have been significant reductions in antimicrobial use in animals globally, further improvements to reduce their use and ensure responsible and sustainable use in food systems are both of the utmost importance and attainable. Although challenging in some situations, this must be prioritized by all countries, sectors and organizations.
To promote the responsible and sustainable use of antimicrobials in food systems, the Global Leaders Group calls for the following:
1. Infection prevention and control
2. Reducing antimicrobial use
All countries should:
3. Oversight and governance
All countries should:
International technical, financing and research and development organizations and partners should:
Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance background
The Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance was established in November 2020 and performs an independent global advisory and advocacy role with the primary objective of maintaining urgency, public support, political momentum and visibility of the AMR challenge on the global agenda. The mission of the group is to collaborate globally with governments, agencies, civil society and the private sector through a One Health approach to advise on and advocate for political action for the mitigation of drug-resistant infections through responsible and sustainable access to and use of antimicrobials.
The group is co-chaired by Their Excellencies Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados and is composed of heads of state, serving or former ministers and/or senior government officials acting in their individual capacities, together with senior representatives of foundations, civil society organizations and the private sector. It also includes principals of the Tripartite organizations – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) – in an ex-officio capacity.
The Tripartite Joint Secretariat (TJS) on Antimicrobial Resistance, a joint effort by FAO, OIE and WHO, provides Secretariat support for the Group.
Members of the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance
Member biographies can be found at the link here.
Headshots of members can be found at the link here.
 FAO defines food systems as encompassing the entire range of actors and their interlinked value-adding activities involved in the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products that originate from agriculture, forestry or fisheries, and parts of the broader economic, societal and natural environments in which they are embedded. The food system is composed of sub-systems (e.g. farming system, waste management system, input supply system, etc.) and interacts with other key systems (e.g. energy system, trade system, health system, etc.)
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