On June 2nd, the White House is convening a One Health Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship to bring together key human and animal health constituencies involved in the development, promotion, and implementation of activities to improve antibiotic stewardship nationwide. Government agencies, along with key human and animal health stakeholders, will be discussing strategies to create meaningful impact on antibiotic stewardship, slow the emergence of resistant bacteria, and prevent the spread of resistant infections. The goal of the Forum is to exchange ideas on ways public and private sector stakeholders can collaborate to improve responsible antibiotic use and to discuss opportunities for further improvement. Dr. Michael Lilburn, past president of FASS, will be participating in the event representing FASS.
On May 20th, the Food and Drug Administration published a proposed rule that would require animal drug sponsors of all antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals to obtain estimates of sales by major food-producing species (cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys). FDA claims that the additional data would improve understanding of how antimicrobials are sold or distributed for use in major food-producing animals and help the FDA further target its efforts to ensure judicious use of medically important antimicrobials. A copy of the proposed rule can be found here. The deadline for public comments is August 18, 2015.
As a part of the annual appropriations process, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee establish 302(b) allocations, which determine the amount of funding each of the appropriations subcommittees have to craft their respective appropriations bills. On May 21st, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year 2016 allocations to the subcommittees, which totaled $1.01 trillion, the statutory limit set in the 2011 debt law. The approval came on a party line vote, as Democrats criticized the allocations as not providing enough resources to properly fund key programs.
Funding for discretionary programs, which includes most agricultural research programs, in the agriculture appropriations bill is $20.51 billion. This is less than the $20.65 billion for agriculture provided in the House allocations. The fiscal year 2015 allocation for agriculture was $20.6 billion. The limited amount of funds allocated to the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees will make achieving increases to research programs challenging in fiscal year 2016. It is anticipated that the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee will be the first to act on its bill, with committee action likely to occur in early June.
On May 18th the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a ruling against the United States regarding a dispute brought by Canada and Mexico challenging the validity of mandatory country of origin labeling regulations (COOL). USDA issued COOL regulations in 2013 that require labeling of meat products including where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered. The U.S. was appealing an initial ruling that the COOL regulations violate trade obligations and that Canada and Mexico would be entitled to take retaliatory action against the U.S. The WTO's appellate body affirmed that the mandatory regulations violate U.S. trade obligations and impose a disproportionate burden in record-keeping and verification requirements on meat producers and processors.
In response to the WTO ruling, the House Agriculture Committee approved a bipartisan bill (H.R. 2392) that would repeal COOL requirements for meat and poultry. More information on COOL repeal legislation can be found here.
On May 20th, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input science and policy issues surrounding the microbiome. OSTP has stated an interest in developing an effort to unify and focus microbiome research across sectors. The purpose of the RFI is to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, and other stakeholder groups on both the overarching questions that unite all microbiome research and the tools, technologies, and training that are needed to answer these questions.
While seeking broad input on issues related to the microbiome, OSTP has highlighted the following questions in which it is seeking feedback:
- What are the most pressing, fundamental questions in microbiome research, common to most or all fields?
- Over the next ten years, what are the most important research gaps that must be addressed to advance this field?
- What tools, platform technologies, or technological advances would propel microbiome research from correlative to predictive?
- What crucial types of scientific and technical training will be needed to take advantage of harnessing the microbiome's potential?
- What fields of microbiome research are currently underfunded or underrepresented?
- What specific steps could be taken by the federal government, research institutes, universities, and philanthropies to encourage multi-disciplinary microbiome research?
A copy of the RFI, including instructions for how to submit comments can be found here. Responses to the RFI are due by June 15, 2015.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has announced the 2015 Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Lecture at the AAAS headquarters (1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC) on June 16 at 4:00pm (registration will open at 3:30pm) featuring Steven Leath, President of Iowa State University. His talk— A University President's Perspective on the Economic Importance of Pursuing a Unifying Message to Make Agriculture a National Priority— will address the ability to meet the needs of a burgeoning global population; the U.S.'s alarming lag in investments in food, agricultural, and natural resources research; and the ways public and private entities across multiple disciplines can and must come together to reclaim the U.S.'s global leadership in these important areas. Following the Lecture, there will be a panel discussion with Dr. Leath; Catherine Bertini, Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs, Syracuse University; Catherine Woteki, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics; and other selected discussants. More information on the lecture is available at www.aaas.org/page/riley-lecture. To RSVP, go to http://events.signup4.com/riley2015.