ASM Applauds Introduction of Healthy Animal Microbiome Study Act
Statement from the American Society for Microbiology in response to Representative Ami Bera (D-CA) Introducing the Healthy Animal Microbiome Study Act
July 19, 2023
July 19, 2023
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), on behalf of more than 30,000 members in the United States and around the world, thanks Representative Ami Bera (D-CA) and Representative Scott Peters (D-CA) for introducing the Healthy Animal Microbiome Study Act. The bill commissions the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a study on a Federal research agenda to advance the understanding of food animal microbiomes and to submit to Congress the findings of the study and the recommendations to advance the federal research agenda on food animal microbiomes.
If enacted, the study will evaluate the research gaps on food animal microbiomes, assess the needs of government, research and industry to have a fuller understanding of the functional components of the microbiome, and estimate the impact on animal health, food safety and agricultural production of a fuller understanding of the animal microbiome.
BackgroundLaunched in 2007, the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was tasked by the National Institutes of Health with creating resources and methods that link interactions between humans and their microbiomes to health-related outcomes. Thanks to investments in the HMP, researchers can now identify associations between changes in the microbiome and conditions ranging from autism to cancer, to the efficacy of drugs used to treat cardiac conditions. In 2016, the Microbiome Interagency Working Group was launched with the objective of microbiome research collaboration across federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Science Foundation and many others. A similar effort to the HMP and a comprehensive study of federal agency research on food animal microbiomes would support innovation in animal health and food production.
Applications of the microbiome in animal health are expanding rapidly, with exciting prospects for application in domestic pets, farm animals and conservation. Healthy food production depends on healthy animal microbiomes, and microbiome innovation can support the agriculture and aquaculture sector as it works to meet the needs of a growing population. Microbiome research in food production has only just started to unleash its potential, and the need to leverage the microbiome as a tool to promote healthier and more productive livestock, poultry and aquaculture species is now greater than ever. To feed a growing population, we need to prioritize animal microbiome research.
A comprehensive Food Animal Microbiome Study commissioned by this bill would provide a report on the “state of the science,” further catalyzing development in precision feeding, support best practices in probiotic development and help industries understand the effect of probiotics, prebiotics and competitive exclusion on food animal health and productivity. The study and report would advance our understanding of the specific organisms and mechanisms involved in microbiome modulation and chart a path forward to quickly advance the field. A concerted effort on the scale of the HMP could catalyze this area of innovation and support animal agriculture as it looks to the future. We thank Representative Ami Bera (D-CA) for the introduction of this important legislation.