A new paper in Science on antimicrobial consumption in food animals

Published on September 29, 2017, by Marius Gilbert

In this paper, published in Science today, we conducted a first global assessment of different intervention policies that could help limit the projected increase of antimicrobial use in food production. The paper is lead by Thomas Van Boeckel a former member of the lab, now at ETH Zurich, and was carried out in collaboration with researchers from FAO, Princeton university and CDDEP.

The paper reports that worldwide antimicrobial consumption is expected to rise by a staggering 52% and reach 200,000 tonnes in 2030 barring any actions. This is an alarming revision from already pessimistic estimates that was published in PNAS in 2010, pushed up mostly by recent reports of high antimicrobial use in animals in China.

The paper investigates several scenarios of global reduction. Compared to a business as usual scenario, a global regulation putting a cap of 50 mg of antimicrobials per kilogram of animal per year in OECD countries could reduce global consumption by 60% without affecting livestock-related economic development in low-income countries. However such a policy may be challenging to enforce in resource-limited settings. An alternative solution could be to impose a user fee of 50% of the current price on veterinary antimicrobials: this could reduce global consumption by 31% and generate yearly revenues of between US$ 1.7 and 4.6 billion.

Those global estimates are mare possible thanks to baseline work carried out in collaboration with FAO on mapping the global distribution of livestock now and into the future.