Robots to help (ex)terminate AMR risk in livestock - NSW Nationals

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Robots to help (ex)terminate AMR risk in livestock

Australian agriculture is a world leader in the fight against development of superbugs.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce said the Coalition Government was providing almost $1.3 million to Australian Pork Limited under the Rural R&D for Profit program to boost Australia’s trade reputation by demonstrating the low antimicrobial resistance status of our farm produce.

“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), or superbugs resistant to antibiotics, is a serious global problem that is a major public health issue worldwide,” Minister Joyce said.

“Minimising the development of resistance in livestock and companion animals is an important priority for industry. 

“This research project, led by Australian Pork Limited, will investigate the use of high-tech robots to define the low level of antimicrobial resistance risk in pigs and chickens within our supply chains.

“Using laboratory robots that can work quickly, precisely and cost-effectively, the project will develop an industry-wide approach to gather information to help farmers demonstrate their low AMR risk status, giving them a competitive advantage in the international marketplace.

“Specialised robots will be used to isolate, count and characterise large numbers of bacteria from animal faeces.

“The robots will be used to identify and grow thousands of individual bacteria to determine the presence and distribution of antimicrobial resistance at both the herd and national level.

“The project will help monitor on-farm control measures to reduce the presence of antimicrobial resistant organismsacross pork and chicken meat industries, with the potential for the project to be used as a model in other animal sectors and for ongoing surveillance.

“Australia is a global leader in minimising risks of AMR spreading, due to the foresight of the government with industry not permitting the use of several antibiotic classes in livestock.”

Australian Pork Limited CEO, Mr Andrew Spencer, welcomed the Australian Government’s support for this project, which is significant for both humans and animals, and will demonstrate livestock industries as responsible citizens.

“The outcome of this project will enable industry to provide hard evidence to back claims and to show leadership credentials, which in an AMR aversive world will be an important point of differentiation.”

While there is limited overlap in antimicrobials between human and animal products it is essential that all parts of the puzzle contribute to the solution.

The $180.5 million R&D for Profit program delivers on the Coalition Government’s election commitment to increase R&D funding for practical projects to increase farmgate returns and capture global market opportunities.

Fast facts:

  • The Rural R&D for Profit program funds projects that address the government’s rural RD&E priorities: advanced technology, biosecurity, managing natural resources, as well as promoting industry and on-farm adoption of R&D.
  • The $180.5 million Rural R&D for Profit program is on top of around $700 million that the government already invests in rural R&D each year.
  • The export value of the Australian chicken meat industry was $47 million for the 2015-2016 financial year and $128 million for the pig meat industry.
  • The World Health Organization has described AMR as a looming crisis in which common and treatable infections are becoming life-threatening.
  • The Australian Government released its first National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019 to guide Australia’s response to the threat of antibiotic misuse and resistance: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/animal/health/amr/antimicrobial-resistance-strategy

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