Why has Alpharma taken significant steps to increase its presence in the medicated feed additives market?
Part of the answer is reflected in the changing landscape of our industry - the need for specialization and concentration on core competencies to help ensure long-term success. Many companies have announced their intention to sell segments of their animal health business to pursue specific markets such as companion animals. Others have exited animal health all together, to focus on their human pharmaceuticals. Companies are carving out that piece of the business where they can have the greatest impact.
At Alpharma, we believe these changes present us with an excellent opportunity to significantly grow and strengthen one of our core competencies - medicated feed additives. The use of antibiotics, anticoccidials and antibacterials in feed are integral health management tools for livestock and poultry producers, and absolutely necessary to meet the world's growing demand for affordable protein.
The other part of the answer is found in our fundamental belief that our products fill a critical need in protecting the safety and abundance of our food supply. We are committed to their continued, prudent use and will use our leadership in the industry to help protect their availability. Everyone in production agriculture shares the responsibility for keeping necessary inputs accessible. In 1999, the U.S. alone raised 7.8 billion chickens, 292 million turkeys, 92 million cattle, 9.3 million dairy cows, 93 million pigs and nearly 1 million sheep. Without these products, we would need millions more of the food producing animals to compensate for losses to disease. The cost of meat, milk and eggs would skyrocket, not to mention the impact on our environment.
Today, most producers must rely on antibiotics delivered either through the feed or in the water to maintain good health. We believe there will be a continued use of these products as long as they provide the most cost-effective means of producing healthy meat.
We also are looking to the future of our industry, pursuing a number of emerging technologies that promise to improve animal production.
Technologies to improve reproduction efficiencies and animal performance will play an important part in increasing world production of meat products. Other technologies will benefit human health by producing a leaner meat and eliminating food-borne pathogens. In the foreseeable future, however, these technologies won't replace the need for medicated feed additives. But they will provide additional tools to help ensure increased production of high quality, safe food.
Alpharma is also determined to protect these products through better consumer information and education. As consumers become further and further removed from farming, it is clear that companies involved in food production must assume much of the responsibility for education on these issues. We've all been a little negligent in the past, allowing biotechnology antagonists to shape the debate through scare tactics and misinformation. We have to address the advantages of biotechnology, not only in food production, but also in the overall quality of our lives through human medicine and other consumer products.
We believe consumers want the good news. They want to know that their food is safe. They want to understand the benefits of better science. And who other than the companies sponsoring these advances and the trade associations representing them, such as the Animal Health Institute, should provide them with that information?