Growth-promoting antibiotics will be banned in the EU by 2006. Livestock producers need alternative means of obtaining similar production benefits to maintain profitability and competitiveness against overseas producers, including the US, where such restrictions do not exist. Ways must also be found to improve the healthiness and safety of animal products reaching the consumer, including those from organic farming.
This project will examine plants, plant extracts and other natural materials as safe alternatives to feed antimicrobials.
The materials will be derived from 500 samples of plant materials collected as possible feed additives for ruminants [FP5 project, Rumen-up, QLK5-CT-2001-00992], plus some additional natural materials likely to be useful in non-ruminants. Rumen-up samples, for which a large data set of background information and screening success now exists, will be tested for properties not screened in FP5: their possible impact on human and animal health (E. coli, parasites), food quality (fatty acids) and efficient use of natural resources (increased forage use by ruminants). Researchers on pigs, poultry and fish, where the impact of antibiotic withdrawal is greatest, will join the consortium. The priorities in these species overlap with ruminants, although the precise aims and pathogen species are different. After identifying the most promising candidates for each target, a small number of samples will be taken to demonstration, proof-of- concept trials. The project will link fragmented research carried out with different animal species across Europe and provide a platform, via consultation with industry, farmers' and consumers' organisations, veterinarians, botanists, agronomists and economists, for the rational production of a new generati on of natural feed additives. The main benefits will be a healthier, safer food chain, increased sustainability of animal agriculture and reduction in its detrimental effects on the environment.
For more information about this project, please visit the <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/food_quality/projects/034_en.ht…; target="_blank">European Commission Food Quality and Safety in Europe</a> Web site.