How will ASF affect the ‘antibiotic reduction’ movement?

Animal Nutrition Views

Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.

How will ASF affect the ‘antibiotic reduction’ movement?

Will the uncontrollable nature of this world-class disease persuade us to refocus our resources from less pressing matters to saving animal production worldwide?

There is no denying that reducing antibiotic usage has become a political movement in some countries. But for now, there seems to be a lull in the fight against antibiotic usage.

The spread of the African swine fever (ASF) virus has caused a paralysis in political, public and private circles where antibiotic reduction used to be the hot topic of the day. Perhaps we realized that, while we were focusing on one issue that was not as immediate as it first appeared, then arrived another issue that threatens to wipe out pig production for good. And, without pigs – which used to be the main target of the antibiotic reduction movement – there will be no reason to worry about overconsumption of additives.

In fact, some regions still consider ASF as an opportunity that will boost their own markets. They tend to ignore that ASF does not respect human boundaries and, despite all our efforts, it continues to spread. Now it has arrived in more developed countries, and the question is not if but when it will hit the rest of the so-far unaffected areas. That is unless we succeed in developing an effective vaccine – but authorities believe we are far from doing so.

So, is this the end of the obsession with antibiotic reduction in animal production? After all, I do not believe the same has been imposed in the hugely uncontrolled antibiotic usage by humans, at least in some areas that I am familiar with. Will the global policymakers refocus on combating really emerging diseases that rampage uncontrollably the animal industry globally? I believe so, because it is difficult to devote enough resources for both causes. Perhaps I am wrong, but I already see less and less emphasis on antibiotic reduction and more work being done on how to keep animals from being wiped out by diseases beyond our control.

View our continuing coverage of the African swine fever outbreak.