Anti-microbials and animal production
Since their discovery, anti-microbials have played an essential role in the treatment of infectious diseases in humans and farmed animals, whether terrestrial or aquatic, and have enormously improved population health as well as food security and safety. However, with the widespread use of anti-microbials for human and animal health in recent decades, the world is increasingly confronted with the emergence and spread of microbes that resist anti-microbial treatment. Discoveries of new anti-microbials are not keeping up with pace anti-microbial resistance (AMR). AMR is responsible for an estimated 25 000 deaths yearly and over EUR 1.5 billion of healthcare costs and productivity losses in the EU alone. Addressing AMR is a cross-sectorial issue, requiring action by different policy areas, from health to agriculture, aquaculture and environment, from research to users, stakeholders and policy makers. A large proportion of anti-microbials is used in livestock production. Although links between this and resistance on human health are not fully established, agriculture is a main target for action. In line with the EU animal health strategy "prevention is better than cure" alternative strategies to anti-microbials need be developed. Alternatives to antimicrobials may be valuable, although evidence of efficacy in controlled trials is currently very limited.
In 2011, the European Commission came up with a five year action plan to fight against AMR and the new action plan is focussing on three pillars: making the EU a best practice region; boosting research, development and innovation; shaping the global agenda. For the purpose of this topic, the words 'animals' and 'farmers' apply to both terrestrial and aquatic animals.
A.  Rethinking management of health of farmed animals (RIA)
The activities should include socio-economic and behavioural science to analyse the practices, information and decision systems of farmers, veterinarians and other professionals involved in managing the health of farmed animals with (and without) reduced drug use practices, in order to: identify the reasons why farmers accept or reject health management recommendations (e.g. use vs. non-use of anti-microbials, use of vaccines as a preventive measure); identify levers/incentives for adherence to prudent use principles by veterinarians and farmers; create a basis for predicting the behaviour of stakeholders (breeding organizations; feeding and pharmaceutical industries, governments) involved in health management to estimate the effectiveness of intervention measures; create a basis for assessing resource allocation for health management (disease prevention, monitoring, therapeutic intervention, compensation of losses, etc.). The activities should also develop - and if possible validate - integrative strategies for animal health, to foster minimal use of anti-microbials; from breeding and feeding of farmed animals, to biosecurity, good husbandry practices, animal welfare and farm management. Proposals should address both conventional and organic farming. Proposals should fall under the concept of 'multi-actor approach', involving representatives of farmers, extension services, veterinarians and other professionals as well other animal production stakeholders (e.g. feeding, breeding, pharmaceutical industries), and should involve training activities.
B.  Alternatives to anti-microbials (RIA)
Activities shall focus on developing and testing new, efficient and targeted alternatives to anti-microbials in farmed animal production. This could be any type of alternative intervention measures (prophylaxis/prevention or treatment), other than vaccines - such as the modulation of host immunity and/or of microbial flora, feed additives or novel molecules. Basic research on gut microbiome should not be covered under this topic. Proposals should take into account the guidelines, standards and legislation in the field, to facilitate the marketing of the measures the project will identify. Proposals should fall under the concept of 'multi-actor approach, involving at least representatives of practitioners (e.g. veterinarians), of the feed/feed additives and pharmaceutical industries.
The selected projects under sub-topics A and B should follow the policies and contribute to the objectives of the STAR-IDAZ international research consortium. International cooperation is recommended.
The proposals under sub-topic A and sub-topic B should liaise with other relevant EU projects and initiatives, in particular JPI AMR and the project selected under topic SFS-36-2017. The projects should take into account the guidelines and standards of relevant EU and international statutory bodies, in particular the European Medicines Agency and the World Organisation for Animal Health.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 6 million, for sub-topic A and for sub-topic B, would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
The funded activities will contribute to the fight against anti-microbial resistance arising from farmed animal production. More specifically they will help:
- develop options for reducing the use of anti-microbials in farming (scope A);
- develop alternative intervention measures from technology readiness levels (TRL) 5-6 to TRL 7 (scope B).
More generally, the funded activities will contribute to improved animal disease prevention and control, reduced production losses and improved resource-use (scopes A and B).
Socio-economic science and humanities