Promoting responsible behaviour towards animal health and well-being

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on: Mar 02, 2018
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Brachycephalic: that’s what these breeds are called, says Bayer’s Rajesh Aggarwal, explaining why the German multinational has taken an informed decision to not use pugs, English bulldogs or Siamese cats to promote their products.

Such breeds have a flattened skull and small nose, leading to respiratory problems; and the layers of skin bind in moisture, giving rise to infection, explains Aggarwal, Bayer’s head of commerical operation (Asia).

People may find these animals “cute”, but this may not be the best thing for the animal, he says, adding that the company did not want to indirectly promote something that is not “responsible”. As a company focussed on animal health and well-being, an informed decision was taken globally to not advance the use of such animals, he says. In fact, Bayer’s global campaign towards animal health and wellness includes supporting responsible breed selection and mitigating zoonotic diseases (where diseases are seen to jump species, from animal to humans in this case) by promoting the concept of “One health” that recognises health as an integrated fabric between different species and the environment.

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     The concept of One Health has been gaining acceptance globally not just against the backdrop of epidemics like bird flu or swine flu, for example, which spread rapidly across geographies, but also with the problem of antibiotic resistance landing at every Government’s doorstep. The random and indiscriminate use of antibiotics in humans and animals has led to these medicines not being effective to treat illnesses anymore. And currently, global campaigns are under way to restrict the use of antibiotics, even as efforts are directed on new potential drug candidates.

Bayer Animal Health’s initiatives in this context include interacting with veterinary doctors, distributors, pet-owners and so on through training, carrying product labels with messages on the prudent use of antibiotics and even apps to promote responsible and informed behaviour among pet-owners, he explains.

It is not that the use of antibiotics will go away, Aggarwal clarifies, as these medicines are needed to treat an unwell animal or one with a bad infection. “It finally boils down to how judiciously we use these antibiotics, and I think these classes of compounds have a tendency that if they are not being used judiciously, they tend to create resistance in the species in which they are being used. So, finally it comes to awareness and knowledge and education which can be imparted on this.” Simultaneous efforts are also under way to promote alternatives to anti-infectives, besides promoting products like probiotics to improve the animal’s health and immunity, he adds.

Bayer’s animal health campaign comes under its cropscience business, a segment that has its own set of controversies involving the use of pesticide and its exposure to farmers and consumers. In fact, the company is currently poised to execute its $66-billion takeover of agrichem and seed company Monsanto.

In India, too, animal health is a “busy place”, says Aggarwal, with the estimated ₹4,000 crore market ( see Infobox ) seeing the participation of several global majors and domestic players.


Published on March 08, 2018

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