Canada company researching antibiotics replacements in animal feed

Prairie Plant Systems currently focusing on mustard seeds' health-boosting properties

Canadian biotechnology company Prairie Plant Systems Inc. is researching new technologies with the potential to replace antibiotics in animal feed, focusing on the health properties of plants such as mustard seeds, according to reports.

The first step in the company’s goal, said CEO Brent Zettl, is to develop feed supplements that will stimulate an animal’s immune system to resist infection. “The long-term goal of our research can have benefits for farmers and consumers alike,” said Zettl.

Prairie Plant Systems is working in response to the movement that exists to stop using antibiotics in feed. “As soon as they use those antibiotics for chickens and pigs, when it comes time for human beings to rely on them to deal with infection the bugs that they were defending (against) have become resistant,” said Zettl. “As a consequence it makes the antibiotics less effective for human beings. We are using those antibiotics after we have discovered them too soon in the food system.” With better science, the company believes it can design antimicrobial, naturally occurring proteins. “If we tap into that, and have a seed promoting that, then it can essentially produce a healthy gut (in the animal),” said Zettl. “It would mitigate or displace the antibiotics used in feed.”

The federal government is investing about $101,000 into the project, which Zettl said will likely take about three years of research to determine viability. The project is funded under the $50 million Agricultural Innovation program.