The University of Illinois is lending its expertise to a task force to help the federal government research antibiotics in farm animals. President Obama issued an executive order calling antibiotic resistance in production agriculture a national security priority. The Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges are behind this. The co-chairman of the task force is U of I President Robert Easter.
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Easter “has an incredibly long history and record in swine production, and he knows that system intimately,” says Rod Mackie, a professor of animal sciences. “He’s very well-placed to help tailor the research agenda, and help to get to those targets.”
“You can find genes that make bacteria resistant to antibiotics,” says U of I natural resources professor Tony Yannarell. “You can find them in water associated with swine treatment lagoons. You can find it in groundwater that comes in contact with the waste treatment lagoons, and we can find it surviving in soil for up to a year, and maybe more.”