EUROPE-The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has evaluated the role of food-producing environments in the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the European Union (EU) plant-based food production, terrestrial animals (poultry, cattle and pigs) and aquaculture.

Among the various sources and transmission routes identified, fertilizers of fecal origin, irrigation and surface water for plant-based food and water for aquaculture are the most significant sources of AMR.

 In terrestrial animal production, potential sources are feed, humans, water, air or dust, soil, wildlife, rodents, arthropods, and equipment.

The soil is replete with bacteria that harbor AMR genes and direct contact of edible portions of plants with soil and soil splash can contribute to food contamination.

Animal and human wastes introduced intentionally as soil amendments or through animal intrusion provide another pathway for AMR bacteria to contaminate foods of plant origin.

Water used for irrigation may also be contaminated with AMR organisms.

There is growing concern that antimicrobials are losing their effectiveness in all sectors, not only in horticulture, but also in veterinary and human medicine.

 Extensive use and misuse of antimicrobials drives the development and transmission of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), but it is unclear the extent to which antimicrobial use (AMU) is driving the development of AMR specifically in-plant pathogens, soil organisms, spoilage organisms, and non-pathogenic contaminants and zoonotic agents present on foods of plant origin.

EFSA has worked closely with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Environment Agency (EEA) in identifying the resistant bacteria and genes of precedence for public health that can be transmitted through the food chain and reviewing the scientific literature to describe their occurrence in those environmental sources

 The adoption of good agricultural practices (GAPs) that limit total microbial contamination of foods of plant origin is a critical first step in reducing the introduction of AMR organisms into the food chain.

Additional information, tools, and activities are urgently needed to better understand and mitigate the risks associated with AMR from agronomic sources.

Advances in surveillance, good practices, awareness and strengthened government regulation and oversight for antimicrobial use and surveillance will contribute to a more effective One Health approach to combat AMR.

A paradigm shift in behavior and production management is needed to reduce AMU. Awareness of the severity of the problem and adoption of sustainable solution pathways at all stages in the food chain is critical to slow the development of AMR and mitigate its negative consequences.

Renewal assessments on use of glyphosates in the EU

In another area EFSA and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have received a blueprint analysis of glyphosate undertaken by four EU Member States and will now begin to consider the findings.

Glyphosate which stands as the world’s most favorite herbicide is currently approved in the EU until 15 December 2022.

Therefore, glyphosate can be used as an active substance in Plant Protection Products (PPPs), until the due date, subject to each PPP being authorized by national authorities following an evaluation of its safety.

Steps towards the glyphosate renewal commenced on 10 May 2019 where the Commission appointed four Member States; France, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden, acting jointly as ‘rapporteurs’ for the next assessment of glyphosate

This group of Member States is known as the Assessment Group on Glyphosate (AGG).

Later, on 12 December 2019, the Glyphosate Renewal Group; a group of companies seeking the renewal of approval of glyphosate in the EU, sent an application for the renewal of approval of glyphosate post-2022 to the AGG, the other Member States, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Commission.

 This application formally initiated the renewal process in the EU as provided for by Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009.

EFSA and Europeans Chemical Agency (ECHA) will continue the assessment process, which will include public consultations on the reports delivered by the AGG (expected in September 2021), and subsequent peer-review by experts from the Member States.

 Details about the peer review process and the process for harmonized classification and labelling can be found on the dedicated webpages of EFSA and ECHA respectively.