Leading the discussion in animal health and food production

Issues related to animal health and food production continually emerge and evolve. At Elanco, we think it’s important for all stakeholders to have input into the discussions, decisions and policies related to these issues. That includes farmers, food producers, processors, packers, feed mill operators, nutritionists, veterinarians, grocers, retailers and consumers.

We arrive at our positions on these issues based on what’s best for people, for the animals, for the environment and for the customers we serve. Here are some of the current issues related to animal health and food production, along with Elanco’s position on each (click on the issue to open or close the information):

Issue: Food as a basic right

Our position: We believe all people are born with two rights: the right to a hopeful future and the right to be fed. We believe:

  • Food is a basic human right
  • Choice is a consumer right
  • Sustainability is environmentally right

Issue: World hunger

Our position: Food insecurity continues to threaten about 1 billion people worldwide.1 In the developing world, hunger may well be the No. 1 health problem. And the number of malnourished could grow staggeringly as the population climbs toward 9 billion by 2050. Even in developed nations like the United States, there’s a growing phenomenon called “hidden hunger,” random bouts of food insecurity when consumers don’t know when or where they’ll have their next meal.

Issue: The use of technology in food production

Our position: The use of technology can help to ensure a supply of safe, affordable and abundant food. By 2050, the world population will require 100% more food.2,3 The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization expects about:

  • 10% of the additional food to come from increased cropping intensity4
  • 20% of the additional food to come from additional farmland4
  • 70% of the additional food to come from technology that improves efficiency4

Technology involves practices (doing something better), products (using new innovative tools) and genetics (enhancing desired traits in plants and animals). In food production, technology drives efficiency, and efficiency makes food more abundant and more affordable. Technology can help to reduce or eliminate hunger while maximizing food choices for consumers. As a company and as individuals, we feel an obligation to meet this need.

Issue: Consumer acceptance of technology in food production

Our position: Consumer research shows 95 percent of consumers are neutral about or supportive of using technology to produce food. In fact, a review of 28 studies in 26 countries representing nearly 100,000 consumers found most consumers make purchases based on taste, cost and nutrition. The study found another 4% of consumers purchase foods based largely on lifestyle factors (ethnicity, vegetarianism, support for local/organic suppliers, etc.). Only a small fringe oppose technology and want to impose restrictions on production practices.

Issue: Consumers and freedom of choice

Our position: Consumers should be free to choose from a variety of safe, wholesome and affordable foods for themselves and their families. Consumers should have the right to buy affordable and nutritious food produced with efficiency-enhancing technologies. When household income increases, consumers tend to add more variety to their diets—especially protein sources. They should have the right to buy food based on factors such as taste, cost or nutrition. And they should have the right to buy organic food, gourmet food or “local” food, if that is their preference. Nobody should restrict a consumer’s right to choose.

Issue: The use of antibiotics in food animal production

Our position: Elanco supports the responsible use of antibiotics in animals intended for human consumption. Elanco supports risk assessments—especially for antibiotics deemed critical for human and animal use—so that prudent use in animals will minimize any potential impact on human health. Elanco further supports the adoption of global trade standards and guidelines, including internationally established maximum residue levels for all products.

Issue: Hormone (rbST) use in milk production

Our position: Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) use in dairy cows poses no human health risk. rbST is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring protein hormone (bovine somatotropine, or bST) found in all dairy cows. The synthetic version (rbST) works the same way as the naturally occurring version (bST). It is not a steroid hormone; it is a protein. Because rbST is a protein, it is digested like any other protein when consumed. All milk contains hormones, and the levels of hormones are not biologically different between organic, rbST-free and regular milk. The nutritional and taste characteristics remain the same as well. rbST-supplemented milk does not contain antibiotics. All milk—regardless of production practice—is tested, and milk determined to contain antibiotics is discarded. rbST is the most researched animal product ever to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Extensive data from thousands of dairies and millions of cows have demonstrated that cows supplemented with rbST remain healthy and productive. Plus, rbST improves productivity and sustainability. Six cows supplemented with rbST will produce the same amount of milk as seven non-supplemented cows. The supplemented cows require less feed, less water and fewer resources to make the same volume of milk. Learn more about rbST and milk productivity.

1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2009. “More people than ever are victims of hunger.” Accessed 8/10/11. www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/newsroom/docs/press%20release%20june-en.pdf.

2. Green, R. et al. January 2005. “Farming and the Fate of Wild Nature.” Science 307.5709: 550-555.

3. Tilman, D. et al. August 2002. “Agriculture sustainability and intensive production practices.” Nature 418.6898: 671-677.

4. 2002. “World Agriculture: toward 2015/2030.” United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome. Accessed Aug. 8/10/11. ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/004/y3557e/y3557e.pdf.

Video: Enough food

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How can we make enough food to feed nearly 7 billion people today—plus the growing population in the years to come?