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Give agriculture the ‘steering wheel’ for data collection

Increased veterinary supervision of antimicrobials in food-producing animals is coming about despite the absence of important scientific and ethical insights, according to a Kansas State University veterinarian and professor.

Stakeholders and regulators must find a way to move forward with antimicrobial-use policy when data are incomplete, said Mike Apley, DVM, PhD. Furthermore, when the data are available, make sure the numbers are interpreted the same way by different stakeholders, he added.

The only way to garner more and better information about antibiotic usage in food-animal production is to “give agriculture the steering wheel for data collection,” he said, according to an article on

Apley further proposed guaranteeing anonymity for industry participants and devising a sampling structure and method of data collection that provides a balanced view of the industry, he said.

“Antibiotics sales data do not drive accurate estimates of indications for use, or even actual use,” Apley said. “In my opinion, antimicrobial-use monitoring should be actual use tied to reason for use. [Collecting data about] total kilograms [of antimicrobials] as a metric only serves as a stick to drive ‘cut the use’ as a goal,” he said.

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