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Editor's Note: With a career in animal health spanning more than 30 years, Bruce Andrews honed his talent in positions ranging from district manager for an animal feed company in the United Kingdom, to vice president for the American Cyanamid International Agricultural Division, to president of the Cyanamid Animal Health & Nutrition Division. He is a co-founder of Lifelearn, Inc., a multimedia publishing company specializing in continuing education programs for professionals, with the initial focus on veterinarians. He joined Alpharma in May 1997.

Alpharma Animal Health is a global leader in the development, registration, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products and technologies for food-producing animals. It is a part of Alpharma Inc., a growing specialty pharmaceutical company with global leadership positions in products for humans and animals. Alpharma is presently active in more than 60 countries.

AM: In the midst of some companies divesting their animal health divisions, your company has doubled in size (in part through the purchase of Roche's Medicated Feed Additive business) and expanded product offerings. Why is that the case with Alpharma Animal Health?

BA: As in other industries, specialization and concentration on core capabilities have become necessary for long-term success. Roche, for example, wanted to focus on its vitamin business. Other 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.

At Alpharma, we believe these changes present us with an excellent opportunity to significantly grow and strengthen one of our core capabilities - medicated feed additives. They are integral, health management tools for livestock and poultry producers, and absolutely necessary to meet the world's growing demand for a safe, abundant and affordable food supply.

AM: Does Alpharma have an altruistic philosophy regarding feeding the world as populations increase, along with meeting the increased demand for protein?

BA: I wouldnít characterize our philosophy as altruistic. We have a responsibility to our stockholders to manage and hopefully grow a successful, profitable business. Everyone in production agriculture shares the responsibility for keeping necessary inputs available. In 1999, the U.S. alone produced 7.8 billion chickens, 292 million turkeys, 92 million cattle, 9.3 million dairy cows, 93 million pigs and nearly one 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 it would have on our environment.

AM: Where is animal production headed from an antibiotics technology standpoint?

BA: Today, most producers must rely on antibiotics delivered either through the feed or in the water to maintain good health and treat disease. We believe there will be a continued use of these cost-effective products. We also are pursuing a number of emerging technologies to improve reproduction efficiencies and animal performance. This will play an important part in increasing world production of meat products. Other technologies will benefit human health by producing leaner meat and eliminating food-borne pathogens. In the foreseeable future, these technologies won't replace the need for medicated feed additives.

AM: What role does your company have in educating the public about both the needs for products produced through biotechnology, but also the safety aspects of the technology?

BA: 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. It is important that we address the advantages of biotechnology in food production and in the overall quality of our lives through human medicine and other consumer products.

Consumers want good news about biotechnology and 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 (AHI), should provide consumers with that information? AM

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