Health officials say antibiotic resistance could create a public health crisis in the next 40 years as medication once commonly used to treat human infections becomes ineffective, resulting in human deaths.
This is why the USDA will give researchers a share of $6m to develop solutions that help develop a sustainable food safety strategy.
“Through our Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Action Plan, USDA is leading the way to better understand how antibiotic resistance develops, find alternatives to antibiotics, and educate people on practices that reduce the need for antibiotics,” said agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack in a press statement on Monday 2 May. “The research projects funded through this announcement will help us succeed in our efforts to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics and protect public health.”
Major reductions by 2020
The USDA pumped $3.4m (£2.3m) into antimicrobial resistance research in 2015, but growing concern across human and veterinary health sectors about its threat to public health has called the US into action.
Funds will be made available through the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
The new batch of research funding is just one of many ways the USDA is proving its commitment to the Combating Antimicrobial Resistant Bacteria (CARB) National Action Plan – an initiative the US hopes will lead to “major” reductions in antimicrobial threats by 2020.
Applications will have to demonstrate to the USDA that the proposed system or strategy promotes the development of a sustainable and integrated food safety plan that reduces the risk to public health from producer to consumer.
Since 2009, the USDA has awarded $82m (£55.8m) in food safety research grants through the AFRI.
Tackling the antibiotics apocalypse has become an increasingly worrying issue, leading to some of the world’s most powerful investors calling on US restaurant chains such as McDonald’s, to stop using antibiotic-treated meat.