An International Model for Antibiotics Regulation

Emilie Aguirre


We face a global antibiotics resistance crisis. Antibiotic drugs are rapidly losing their effectiveness, potentially propelling us toward a post-antibiotic world. The largest use of antibiotics in the world is in food-producing animals. Food producers administer these drugs in routine, low doses—the types of doses that are incidentally the most conducive to breeding antibiotic resistance. In general, individual countries have been too slow to act in regulating misuse and overuse of antibiotics in foodproducing animals. This problem will only worsen with the significant projected growth in meat consumption and production expected in emerging economies in the near future. Although individual countries regulating antibiotics can have important effects, one country alone cannot insulate itself entirely from the effects of antibiotic resistance, nor can one country solve the crisis for itself or for the world. The global nature of the food system and the urgency of the problem require immediate global solutions. Adapting a democratic experimentalist approach at the international level can help achieve this goal. Using an international democratic experimentalist framework in conjunction with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) would provide for increased systematized data collection and lead to heightened, scientifically informed OIE standards, enforceable by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which could have a significant impact on the reduction of subtherapeutic use of antibiotics internationally. International democratic experimentalism addresses the global intricacy, time sensitivity, context- and culture-specificity, and knowledgeintensiveness of this problem. By encouraging more countries to experiment to solve this problem, the democratic experimentalist model would help develop a larger database of solutions to enable more meaningful cross-country comparisons across a wider range of contexts. This approach maintains democratic governance and legitimacy while maximizing data collection, efficiency, translatability, transparency, and information-sharing. Adapting democratic experimentalism internationally can enable the kind of concerted international effort required to address the pressing problem of antibiotic resistance.