Evaluating the potential contribution of beef cattle to antimicrobial resistance

AMR fact sheet
Increasing public concern regarding antimicrobial use (AMU) and resistance (AMR) in livestock is leading to increased pressure on livestock producers, veterinarians, industry groups, processors, foodservice companies and governments to address these concerns. Science-based, epidemiologically sound research is critical for sound industry policy and communication, legislation, and educated consumer choices.

Research currently underway and funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster will provide insights into the relationships between AMU in feedlot cattle, the nature of AMR bacteria in cattle, and the possible spread of pathogens and AMR bacteria in Continue reading

Celebrate beef industry’s continual environmental improvements on Earth Day

This post was written in collaboration with Fawn Jackson, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association Manager of Environment and Sustainability.

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Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22nd, began in the 1970’s and is often cited as the start of the modern environmental movement. But it isn’t just for the hippie children of the 1970’s anymore. Today Earth Day is recognized globally by people from all walks of life as a way to foster and celebrate environmental respect and behavioural changes that lessen our impact on the earth.

Cattle producers across Canada, who Continue reading

Hot Air Doesn’t Just Come from Cattle

A week ago, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published “Land, irrigation, water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs, and dairy production in the United States”.

The authors, a physicist from Bard College in New York, a physicist and a graduate student from Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and a Yale graduate student with a master’s degree in political science, looked at lifecycle assessments (LCA’s) for livestock. An LCA tries to estimate environmental impacts by looking at the inputs used (e.g. energy, feed, fertilizer, water, etc.) and outputs generated (e.g. greenhouse gases, smog, manure, fertilizer runoff, etc.) when meat, milk or eggs are produced, processed, transported, distributed, consumed, and recycled.

The authors of this study noted that regional variations in production systems and environments are important: “the results of an LCA conducted in Iowa, for example, are unlikely to represent Vermont or Colorado”. A key challenge, they said, “is Continue reading

Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.

The World Health Organization’s “Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance” was released this spring. The WHO’s report was quite comprehensive and well-balanced, compared to much of the media attention that regularly swirls around this issue.

Antimicrobial use leads to increased antimicrobial resistance in bacteria. The misuse or overuse of antimicrobials in human or animal medicine increases the speed with which antimicrobial resistance develops. An added concern is that pharmaceutical companies have not released any new antibacterial drugs since 1987. If antimicrobial resistance continues to increase, Continue reading

Can composting destroy BSE prions?

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is believed to be caused by misfolded prion proteins. On the rare occasion of an infected animal, the prions will be present in particular tissues, known as specified risk materials (SRM), of the animal. Proper disposal of carcasses and SRM is important to control the spread of BSE and maintain Canada’s controlled BSE status with the OIE.

A recently-completed research project, funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster, worked to determine whether composting can cost-effectively destroy prions. Continue reading

Part 2 of three-part video series on antimicrobial resistance

Delving deeper into the discussion on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), this episode of the Beef Research School focuses on AMR research and surveillance on beef cattle.  We hear from Dr. Tim McAllister, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Principal Research Scientist, who explains in detail how AMR develops, summarizes past studies, and explains an upcoming study under the proposed Beef Science Cluster II. Continue reading