Groups and colleges unite to create national task force on antibiotic use

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WASHINGTON — A national task force has been created to advise the federal government on the use of antibiotics in production agriculture.

The group, whose creation was announced jointly by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, will advise the government on a research agenda on the use of antibiotics in agriculture and also help publicly disseminate information on the issue.

Antibiotic resistance

Scientists, health organizations and the public have grown increasingly concerned about the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria in veterinary and human medicine. Some bacteria have developed defenses against different classes of antibiotic compounds.

The task force will draw on the expertise of its members to serve as a knowledgeable and important source of advice for the federal government as it develops its plans. It can also make recommendations on further research that should be undertaken to develop alternative solutions for some antibiotic use in production agriculture.

Recommendations

On Sept. 18, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report, “Combating Antibiotic Resistance” which laid out several recommendations to address the problem. President Obama also has issued an executive order that describes the antibiotic resistant bacteria problem as a national security priority and directs various executive branch departments and agencies to develop a specific plan of action by mid-February to address antibiotic resistance and protect public health.

Establishing policies

Once policies are established, APLU institutions such as UNL will work to educate producers and the public about the appropriate use of antibiotics in agriculture and veterinary medicine and the design of effective stewardship programs.

“This is an important collaborative effort,” said Peter McPherson, president of the APLU, which is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 237 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations. “The task force and its members are well-positioned to advise the Obama administration as they consider strategies to address the judicious use of antibiotics in production agriculture.”

Membership

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect and improve the health and welfare of animals, people and the environment by advancing academic veterinary medicine.

The task force members include:

• Ronnie D. Green, IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor at the University of Nebraska;

• Lonnie J. King, dean, Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine (chair);

• Robert A. Easter, president, University of Illinois (co-chair);

• Richard A. Carnevale, vice president of Regulatory, Scientific and International Affairs, Animal Health Institute;

• Thomas Coon, vice president, dean and director, Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources;

• Eleanor Green, Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences;

• Walter Hill, dean, College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences, Tuskegee University;

• Christine Hoang, assistant director, Division of Scientific Activities, American Veterinary Medical Association;

• Ashley Peterson, vice president of science and technology, National Chicken Council;

• Willie Reed, dean, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University;

• Kathy Simmons, chief veterinarian, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association;

• Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian, National Pork Producers Council.

Officials from key federal agencies are expected to serve as observers and leaders from public universities in Mexico and Canada also will serve as ex officio members.

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