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Syringes and Drugs

Case Study: Veterinary Drugs

Veterinary drugs are used in the treatment of disease. An emergence or increase in animal diseases as a result of climate change could result in a greater reliance on these drugs and harmful residues in food.

Administration of veterinary medicines to food animals is likely to increase with disease emergence. This is exacerbated by the increasing risk of drug resistance which may lead to administration of greater quantities of medications or alternative drugs being used inappropriately. As a result, there is the potential for more and different residues of veterinary medicines to appear in food as a result of climate change effects.

A range of mitigation and adaption strategies are necessary to ensure the predicted climate change effects on animal health does not affect food safety via increasing veterinary drug residues. Potential strategies include:

  • Developing alternatives to drug treatments e.g. vaccines and bacteriophage therapy as an alternative to livestock antibiotics.

  • Educating farmers and producers on livestock management practices which reduce drug usage

  • Expand the scope of residue testing in animal food products to ensure it encompasses relevant new and emerging veterinary drugs

  • Research to fill knowledge gaps such as the types and amounts of veterinary drugs used; a measure of the residues in the environment; the extent to which drug residues are recycled in the food chain; and the occurrence of resistant target species.

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Farm to Fork: Sustainable Food Production in a Changing Environment

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