The science behind the emergence, amplification, persistence and transfer of antibiotic resistance is highly complex and open to interpretation - and sometimes misinterpretation - from a wide variety of perspectives and misuse. If one thinks they understand antimicrobial resistance, it might not have been properly explained.

The extremely complex relationship between animal health, human health and environmental health is driven by two premises. The first is that antimicrobial resistance is a naturally occurring phenomenon that is present with or without the use of antimicrobials. The second is that anytime an antibiotic enters the ecosystem, it has the potential to contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance.

These two points were among the many shared during the "Bridging the Gap between Animal Health and Human Health" symposium sponsored by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture and conducted November 12-14, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. These points and additional information synthesized from the symposium comprise a 27-page "Bridging the Gap between Animal Health and Human Health" symposium white paper recently released by NIAA. 


"This white paper highlights information delivered during the symposium by 20 different speakers-including antibiotic use and resistance experts representing animal health, human health and public health as well as a consumer advocate organization, grocery retailers, staff members and selected media representing agriculture and consumer advocates," states Dr. Nevil Speer, Ph.D., Western Kentucky University, and co-chair of the "Bridging the Gap between Animal Health and Human Health" symposium.

"Open and candid presentations and discussions emphasized that those in human health and in animal health are committed to continuous improvement and are working to find common ground so a collective path forward can be formulated. Having a tug-of-war of human versus agricultural use of antibiotics doesn't advance a solution. This paper underscores the importance of taking a 360-degree view and addressing antibiotic resistance from an all-inclusive, science-based perspective."

The Antimicrobial Use and Resistance White Paper is available on the NIAA's website. Many of the symposium's PowerPoint presentations, including the audio, are also available in full.