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Antibiotics in Agroecosystems: State of the Science

McLain, Jean
University of Arizona
Start date
End date

Specific objectives of the proposed meeting are:

1. To gather top experts to openly discuss, debate, and come to consensus on a suite of tools (including molecular and cultivation) to track antibiotics,antibiotic resistant (AR)bacteria and AR genes resulting from the veterinary use of antibiotics in meat animal production;

2. To gather top experts to openly discuss, debate, and come to consensus on methodological standards to address background antibiotic production and AR in natural systems;

3. To actively involve graduate and undergraduate students in the workshop, and introduce them to the process of developing, validating, and implementing methods for detection of antibiotics, AR bacteria and AR genes in pre-harvest and manure-impacted samples; and

4. To effectively disseminate conference results by facilitating publication of review articles and a reference guide to raise awareness and exchange the best research practices developed through this workshop with fellow scientists.

More information

To facilitate the goal of reducing the transfer of antibiotic resistance (AR) from pre-harvest food production systems to clinical settings, it is essential to increase current understanding of the natural levels, and the environmental fate and transport, of specific types of AR. Currently, there is no consensus on which antibiotics, which types of resistance, or which specific AR genes are most relevant to scientific research addressing the impacts of agricultural antibiotic use on human health. In light of the need expressed by the World Health Organization for "internationally recognized principles for risk assessment...related to antimicrobial resistance owing to non-human use of antimicrobials," there is a need among the research community involved in tracking of environmental AR to develop a standardized and rigorously validated suite of methods that can be used across the farm-to-fork continuum to accurately inform food safety risk assessment models. This critical, and as yet completely un-addressed, need provides justification for the proposed meeting. This gathering will initiate dialogue towards consensus at asummer 2014 gathering of scientists and students at the University of Arizona Biosphere2 Conference Center. Furthermore, the meeting will build upon the expertise of four world-renowned cooperating experts and will target participation of researchers from universities, government laboratories, and regulatory agencies. The three-day meeting will facilitate open discussion on advancing methods for assessment of AR in agroecosystems, and results will be transferred to the food safety research community via review publications summarizing current AR research in agroecosystems, meeting symposia, and a published methodological reference guide.

This is a meetinggrant and thus,Methods will summarize the Proposed Program:
Day 1:1. Plenary talk by Dr. Amy Pruden (Va Tech); Antibiotic resistance genes as environmental pollutants: What challenges and opportunities does this present?2. Poster session and Student poster competition judging. Posters will remain for entire length of conference.
Day 2: 1. Opening talk by conference organizing committee: expected outcomes and goals of the conference, and describing working/discussion areas.2. 40-minute talk on the "state of the science" by each of three invited experts (Dr. Eddie Cytryn, Israel Agricultural Research Organization; Dr. Alistair Boxall, University of York; Dr. Diana Aga, SUNY Buffalo).3. Open Facilitated Discussion: what are the greatest needs for us to come to a consensus on measurement? What are the roadblocks?4. Division of conference attendees into three pre-assigned breakout groups to define priority issues.5. Open discussion within breakout groups. Purpose will be to focus/organize thoughts for review paper discussion the following morning.
Day 3: 1. In Breakout Groups, outline review papers on breakout topics. Each review paper will address a key research question identified during Monday morning open discussion and Monday afternoon breakout groups.2. Establish writing assignments and timeline; assign senior author and student author to each paper. Strong outline of each paper will be drafted.
Day 4: 1. Tour of Biosphere2 Facility2. All discuss writing and publication of technical reference guide.3. Breakout groups continue on sections of review articles and plan for completion and submission schedule.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
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Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication
Antimicrobial Resistance