José Graziano da Silva has called for more financial funding and knowledge transfer from Europe’s leaders to stamp out antimicrobial resistance in poverty-stricken regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia.
Speaking in Brussels at the European Development Days 2016 conference on 15 June, Da Silva questioned the link between combating antimicrobial resistance in livestock and securing a sustainable agricultural industry for the underdeveloped world.
The problem is this: will increasing sustainable agriculture by helping poverty-stricken communities produce more food run the risk of stimulating antimicrobial resistance?
It’s a possibility that could cause problems for achieving the FAO’s Sustainable Development Goal 2 – a policy to end world hunger, achieve food security and improve sustainable agricultural by 2030.
Da Silva’s speech was rooted in how investment in sustainable agriculture is crucial if the world is to address hunger, poverty and other root causes of mass immigration to Europe.
Providing resource-limited farmers, including livestock farmers, with better access to land, financial credit, new markets and technology could be a way to reduce the flow of immigration to Europe, he suggested.
But securing a sustainable food industry could be in jeopardy if small-scale meat producers don’t have the ability to control animal disease without perpetuating antimicrobial resistance.
“If AMR is running riot there are going to be numerous problems [with achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2],” said a spokesman from the FAO.
“There is a lot of concern over what is going on in rural communities because some of the antibiotics that are available over the counter are a lot more in use than some people may think.”
The spokesman explained that losing an animal can be expensive for livestock producers. Because antibiotics are cheap and livestock farmers are not always educated on the long-term implications to animal and human health, routine antibiotic treatment is more common than perhaps perceived.
In light of this, Da Silva requested “the support of European countries through voluntary contributions, either financial or in-kind” to work on combating antimicrobial resistance.
The FAO’s chief veterinary officer Juan Lubroth added that the global burden of diseases are "present challenges" for the FAO to achieve its Sustainable Development 2 goal.
"As stated in the Rome Declaration on Nutrition (ICN2) (Rome, 19-21 November 2014), members recognised that 'food systems need to contribute to preventing and addressing infectious diseases, including zoonotic diseases, and tackling antimicrobial resistance'. Irresponsible use (overuse or misuse of antimicrobials or producing counterfeit medicines) in agriculture - livestock, fisheries, plants production - requires strong surveillance and robust governance."