Texas A&M University Fighting For The Future: Mitigating Antimicrobial Resistance Through Better Stewardship

Photo credit: Tim Stephenson, Texas A&M University

Antibiotics have been prescribed for people and animals at rates that have encouraged bacteria to expand resistance. If this trend continues, life-saving antibiotics may be ineffective in the future.

Dr. Scott and his team are combating this threat by developing and sharing a voluntary framework for antimicrobial stewardship for animals. Their efforts focus on beef and dairy cattle production systems. The framework includes core values and ethics, basic scientific principles, best management practices, tools, and protocols to improve voluntary compliance, optimize animal health, and minimize risks to people.

This consultative process engages industry partners and other key stakeholders early in the process. Based on field research with cattle, they emphasize voluntary stewardship and adoptable actions to mitigate resistance that surpass product label requirements.

This science-based framework must be able to adapt to change, particularly as new and emerging resistance genes develop. Animal trials are underway. Ultimately, Dr. Scott and his team are aiming to provide empirical data about the science of antimicrobial resistance to guide the best practices for antibiotic use. They are working to preserve populations of bacteria that can continue to be treated by antibiotics.

Dr. Scott emphasizes that this research is based on a moral imperative. For the sake of future generations, society needs to develop a plan to ensure that we have the ability to continue to treat bacterial infections. The agricultural industry can do its part by voluntarily implementing a code of best practices based on sound science.

Bacteria can outsmart us at every turn. We must maximize voluntary stewardship so that we are able to effectively treat bacterial infections in the coming years and decades. We have moral and ethical obligations to future generations.

– Dr. Morgan Scott

Retaking The Field Volume 3 “Retaking the Field: Empowering Agricultural Sciences for Health” is a collaborative report from eleven universities and the SoAR Foundation. The report — the third in SoAR’s series — explores the success of research projects funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the flagship competitive grants program of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). It is part of SoAR’s broader education and advocacy initiative to encourage additional federal support for food and agricultural research. View The Issue
Retaking the Field Volume 3: The Case for a Surge in Agricultural Research Click to download report

More Stories from the community

Building Blueberry Businesses

The Florida blueberry industry got its start in the 1970s when the University of Florida (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences developed the first Southern Highbush blueberry plants grown commercially in the state. The industry’s growth has been dramatic and spectacular. In the 1980s, the blueberry industry in Florida was worth less than $500,000. Today, the state’s industry is worth an estimated $82 million dollars per year. USDA has supported UF’s research on blueberry production over the course of 20 years.

Read More
Collaborating on Corn

U.S. farmers produce 41 percent of the world’s corn on 400,000 farms located primarily in the Midwest Corn Belt region. American production value of corn was over $50 billion in 2018. The U.S. exports between 10 and 20 percent of its corn crop. An increasingly variable climate and weather extremes, including flooding and droughts, threaten crop production and degrade soil.

Read More