Alternative production system to address anti-microbial drug usage, animal welfare and the impact on health
Confined systems dominate in modern livestock production worldwide, in particular as regards monogastric species. These systems often constrain natural animal behaviour and may result in health problems and product quality issues. The EU and China are facing a similar challenge, though not to the same extent. Efforts to maximise production and ensure product safety often involve overuse of anti-microbial drugs in farm animals either in veterinary treatment, or for growth-promoting purposes in those countries where they are allowed. Drug residues may accumulate in animal products and the environment, lead to food quality issues and constitute a risk for consumers. Welfare and environmentally-friendly production systems may improve animals' immunity and health conditions, and reduce veterinary drug use, in combination with other measures such as good husbandry practices and biosecurity. The EU has an increasingly active policy on improving animal welfare and fighting the threat of anti-microbial resistance. As China is seeing high levels of veterinary drug use in increasingly intensive production systems, it has an interest in cooperating with the EU on strategies to make those systems more sustainable.
Focusing on monogastric species in confined intensive systems, the proposed research activities should assess the links between livestock welfare and health, the underlying factors, the related use of anti-microbial drugs and the subsequent presence of residues in products and their spread into the environment. They should in particular address immunity and health, biosecurity measures and residue detection. The activities should develop possible means, including tools, methods and schemes, by which more welfare-friendly production systems can help improve health and reduce the use of veterinary drugs. The proposed activities should, where possible, measure the potential impact of the proposed measures, including the socio-economic aspects and the scope for establishing schemes (standard-setting, management, policy, monitoring and verification components).
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed properly. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Contributions for Chinese participants will come in addition and will be made available by China.
- welfare-friendly production systems (housing, equipment, technology) to improve farm animal immunity, health and welfare effectively;
- reduced veterinary drug use at farm level and reduced residue in animal products in order to improve food safety;
- improved biosecurity at farm level; and
- contribution to the development of common legislation and standard-setting in the EU and China