CE03 - Interactions homme-environnement

Antimicrobials in agriculture: actors, practices, conflicts – AMAGRI

The veterinary profession at the heart of the fight against antimicrobial resistance

The regulation regime of antibiotic use in livestock farming put at the test of the antimicrobial resistance problem

1. The transformations of the veterinary drug market in France: between professional dynamics and public policy

The problem of antimicrobial resistance is partly based on the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in livestock farming. Antimicrobial resistance policies have focused mainly on antibiotic prescription and use, without addressing the structural determinants of the veterinary drug market. However, there is a clear link between the current decline in antibiotic use and the ongoing reshaping of the medicines market, which needs to be better understood to foster a long-term and sustainable reduction of antibiotic use. <br />The preliminary results of the project show a transformation of both the professional and economic models of farm animal veterinary practices that accompanies changes in antibiotic use. Preventive approaches to animal health, often seen as a solution to antimicrobial resistance, are based on changes in veterinary knowledge, work organisation and client relationships and, ultimately, in the structure of the drug market. Large veterinary companies are developing and occupy a position not only as prescribers/deliverers of medicines but also as distributors. It is this dynamic, as a whole, that promotes the reduction in the use of antibiotics in livestock farming.

These (still preliminary) results have been obtained by combining several surveys and methodological approaches. Historical research on the regulatory policies of the veterinary drug market allows us to understand the reasons for the economic dependence of veterinary practices on the sale of drugs. Political science studies how recent public policies to combat antimicrobial resistance and their impact on the market and stakeholders’ practices have been designed and implemented. Finally, sociological and economic surveys provide a detailed analysis of the transformations taking place in the professional and economic models of veterinary practices in order to understand, on an intermediate scale, what are the main levers for encouraging a sustainable reduction in the use of antibiotics in livestock farming.
The combination of these approaches is particularly innovative in the field of research on antimicrobial resistance. Not only are the economic and social sciences rarely mobilised, to the detriment of technical and biological sciences, but, when they are, they are often limited to behaviouralist or culturalist approaches to stakeholders’ representations, while structural phenomena such as markets, professions and institutions are left aside. The AMAGRI project takes the opposite approach in order to propose innovative results.

A multi-audience website has been launched in September 2020. It offers different types of resources, news and references, and offers regular commentary pieces through which researchers present their work or react to a current topic related to antimicrobial resistance.
A seminar will also be launched from January 2021 where the project's research will be presented and discussed with the work of other researchers on related subjects. This space is also linked to the expansion (ongoing and future) of the project team which has obtained other research contracts (H2020, DIM Île de France) and is currently applying for new funding (PPR Antibioresistance).
The project coordinator and two other members of the project have been invited to take part in an Anses experts committee on antimicrobial resistance, for the Ministry of Agriculture. The results of the project are therefore directly mobilised to inform public decision-making.

The AMAGRI project is the spearhead of a research collective that has initiated innovative work in the social sciences of AMR, filling an obvious gap in the literature (and a demand from both public authorities and stakeholders) on these issues. This collective also contributes greatly to the development of interdisciplinary collaborations with the veterinary sciences, and is part of international academic networks. The objective is now to ensure the sustainability of this collective for the coming years, via new funding, in order to capitalise on the results obtained and to broaden research.

Several articles related to this project, and in synergy with the other projects of the research group, have already been published or are in the process of being published. A complete list is given in the appendix, but special mention can be made of the coordination of two special issues on the veterinary profession and on the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry, both in the field of social sciences and within the framework of interdisciplinary approaches.

The objective of AMAGRI is to promote the reduction of antibiotic use in livestock farming in order to address the problem of antimicrobial resistance in the agri-food sector, by contributing to the development of socio-economic innovations for prescription, delivery and rational use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine. This is a major issue for public health, food security and ecosystem management, as reducing antibiotic use is one of the keys to encouraging the development of sustainable production models. By seeking to understand, on the one hand, how the dominant model of intensive livestock farming supported by an extensive use of antibiotics has been established, and by encouraging, on the other hand, the current dynamics that are striving to reduce this technical, economic and cultural dependence to veterinary drugs, AMAGRI contributes to the transition towards an "agro-ecological" production model that allows better control of the health and environmental risks posed by the phenomenon of antimicrobial resistance.
Although the use of antibiotics in livestock farming is now tending to decrease in France and Europe, it is still necessary to identify the structural determinants and levers of action that allow this trend, in order to strengthen and sustain it. Until now, research has focused on actors' perceptions and technical alternatives to antibiotics, but does not question the effects of public policies regulating veterinary drugs or the professional and economic dynamics of the animal health sector. On the contrary, we hypothesize that the transformation of veterinary medicine practices, knowledge and working and organizational models, in connection with veterinary drug policies, plays a major role in the evolution of antibiotic use in animal husbandry and the development of innovative agri-food production models.
AMAGRI is an interdisciplinary social science project that articulates historical and political science research on the evolution of veterinary drug regulation and public debates on antimicrobial resistance, and sociological and economic research on the contemporary transformations of the professional and economic model of rural veterinary practices. The aim is to produce, for the first time in France, a global analysis of the issue of antibiotic use in livestock farming. The project traces on the one hand the genesis of this public problem and the public policies supposed to deal with it, and on the other hand evaluates the impact of recent measures and their articulation with the current socio-economic dynamics contributing to the transition towards preventive veterinary medicine and rational use of antibiotics.
AMAGRI is led by a team of researchers specialized in animal health issues, the veterinary profession and veterinary medicines. It will make a significant contribution to the social science literature and interdisciplinary approaches that have addressed the problem of antimicrobial resistance too little so far, and will also promote the development of national and international academic networks on this major issue. In addition, AMAGRI will have a strong societal impact through its interactions throughout the project and beyond with veterinary professional organizations and the veterinary administration of the Ministry of Agriculture. The work carried out within the project will be in line with the priorities of stakeholders concerned by the antimicrobial resistance problem and will promote the implementation of innovative socio-economic solutions to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock farming.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Nicolas Fortané (Institut de recherche Interdisciplinaire en Sociologie, Economie et Science Politique (IRISSO))

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IRISSO Institut de recherche Interdisciplinaire en Sociologie, Economie et Science Politique (IRISSO)

Help of the ANR 208,770 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2018 - 36 Months

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