Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance through Improved Livestock Health and Welfare. Launch of an Exciting EU – China research project

On October 25, 2018, a new ambitious and ground-breaking project was launched: Healthy Livestock. Internationally renowned experts and scientists from the European Union and China will work together to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR). A key pillar of the project is disease prevention. Combined with prompt and targeted interventions where necessary, this will result in a reduced use of antimicrobials and less AMR: a clear win-win for animals and people.

Medicines against infectious diseases, called antimicrobials, are one of the most valuable inventions in human history. Since their discovery, antimicrobials have saved the lives of millions of people and animals. However, every antimicrobial use inevitably promotes the emergence of defense mechanisms by the disease agent.

Healthy Livestock has chosen to tackle antimicrobial resistance at its roots and covers the species of pigs and poultry.

Through a multidisciplinary approach it will lead to:

  • reduction of the risk for animals to get exposed to disease agents,
    increased resilience of the animals towards disease challenges,
    early detection of health problems and specific diseases,
    and if antimicrobials are needed, a more precise use or alternatives.

Special tools to help farmers will be developed. The outcome of Healthy Livestock research will be conveyed to all relevant parties, including farmers, quality assurance scheme owners, and veterinarians working in livestock production, as well as animal welfare organizations, politicians, and decision makers.

We here at GLOBALG.A.P. are part of the consortium and look forward to integrating practical outcomes of the research project into our certification standards. In turn, the requirements and strategies put forward by the GLOBALG.A.P. IFA Standard regarding biosecurity, animal welfare, and antibiotic reduction strategies in the livestock provide a good foundation for Healthy Livestock. Our experience in quality assurance and in communicating and promoting improved biosecurity, antibiotic reduction strategies, and the avoidance of antimicrobial resistance at producer level are a major contribution to the project.

HealthyLivestock is coordinated by Wageningen Research. The project will last 4 years and integrates partners from academia, research institutes, and the private sector from the following countries: Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom. The consortium is funded by the European Commission and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.