Concerned about the growing debate about what some call the egregious misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture? You should be. The outcome could take the sensible use of important medicines out of your hands. Laws have already been proposed and minds have already been made up. Both of them - the laws and minds - are being settled based on rumor, innuendo and good intentions in an almost fact-free environment.
Dr. Nevil Speer, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Director of MA Leadership Dynamics Program at Western Kentucky University is chairing a Symposium that might introduce some science into the debate. It's a project backed by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture called "Bridging the Gap Between Animal Health and Human Health."
Speer certainly has the credentials and the contacts to pull it all together. The list of speakers is certainly impressive; people like Symposium Moderator Dr. Richard Raymond, and Dr. Craig Lewis Dr. Mike Apley and Dr. Dave Dargatz. The subjects to be discussed 'bridge the gap," too. It will be an important event that can, hopefully, put animal antibiotics in the proper, non-sensationalistic framework.
The Symposium takes place just a few minutes from my office, November 12-14 at the Kansas City International Airport Marriott. I'll be there and report on it. In the meantime, I contacted Dr. Speer and asked him a few questions about the program.
Q. Dr. Speer, the National Institute for Animal Agriculture is hosting a symposium in Kansas City with the interesting title of "Bridging the Gap Between Animal Health and Human Health. It's a continuation of an antibiotic symposium in Chicago two years ago and another in Columbus, Ohio last year. What were the accomplishments of those first two symposia?
A. There’ve been a number key take-aways from the first two symposiums. However, those can probably be distilled down to three key ideas:
- Antimicrobial resistance is an important issue that impacts all of us. Therefore, it’s critical there be no false solutions. Stated another way, policy makers need to rely on science. That is, any oversimplification of the issue – often blaming only agriculture – is a non-starter and actually does a disservice to the general public. Real solutions need to be well-established on science-based criteria.
- Antimicrobial resistance is not a simple issue. There are any number of complicating factors and interactions. And resistance, in of itself, does not derive simply because of use.
- Animal, human and environmental health are inherently linked together. As such, any real solution must incorporate a One-Health approach – the need for all segments to work together to ensure comprehensive answers going forward.