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Editor's Note: Dr. Brendan P. Fox became president of Elanco Animal Health in 1990 after a career that included Elanco assignments in England, France, and the U.S. A native of England, Dr. Fox received his degree in veterinary medicine and surgery from the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1967, and is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly and Company headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., is a research-based manufacturer of products for animal agriculture.

AM: How is Elanco dealing with challenges on the livestock side of your business, such as low commodity prices, integration of industry segments and fewer customer decision-makers?

BF: The best thing Elanco Animal Health can do to support a changing animal health industry is to continue to provide improved technology, then help customers get the best results and benefits from that technology. Ultimately, the answer to economic pressures is to become more efficient. Elanco is developing new technologies that will help livestock producers reduce costs and turn out higher-quality products. Innovation is a key goal of Elanco. Innovation is the way livestock producers have succeeded in the past, by adopting things like silage, growth promoters, effective therapeutics, record-keeping and improved genetics. Elanco is introducing new products that are keeping the flow of new technology coming.

AM: How do you view the antibiotic situation, especially with regard to positions taken by the European Union?

BF: I view the antibiotic situation as one that needs to be addressed in a reasonable and rational manner. We need to determine the real causes of resistance to antibiotics in humans and deal with them based on sound science. Unfortunately, today there's a lot of political maneuvering to fix blame without any science. This is a wasteful effort that will delay or prevent a real solution to the problem. Real science-based solutions are already being put into place by the human pharmaceutical industry and by the animal health industry.

There's no proof that banning growth promoter use in animals will have any impact on human antibiotic resistance. In fact, there's evidence that bans are counter productive. For example, when Sweden effectively banned growth promoter use in animals, the result was an increase in the amount of more powerful antibiotics that were needed to treat disease problems. We support industry initiatives such as good management and hygiene, education and enforcement of correct use of all products and resistance monitoring with action to follow if proven necessary.

AM: How do you see e-commerce in your marketing mix?

BF: E-commerce has moved more slowly into agriculture than into some other industries, but it's coming! Today it's evolving as an excellent tool for communication, and thatís basically how we use it at Elanco. Tomorrow it may become a more widely-used method for commerce, as members of the distribution chain begin to use it to service their customers. Agriculture is now a global business, so the global reach of the Internet can fit in very well. Soon EDI (Electronic Data Interface) will become the standard way of commercial transaction and one-on-one customized communication and database marketing will be routine.

AM: What keeps you excited about the agricultural industry as the decade begins?

BF: Two things excite me about this decade: 1) The innovation and new technology that's coming; and 2) The worldwide political struggle to allow this new technology to be used. Many new technologies face significant political opposition that seeks to stop the use of products that have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective. To feed the growing world population, we absolutely must innovate. Equally important, we must also help the non-agricultural world understand that these new technologies are safe, that they are absolutely vital to human prosperity and survival, and that they have very significant benefits for the consumer.

We should not be using the term "agricultural industry," but rather "food production" to help us focus on the integrated food production chain from genetics through production, processing and retailing - all focused on meeting the consumer's needs and preferences. This whole chain is re-structuring into a branded product base which will be supplied by much more tightly integrated networks to ensure product quality and safety for the consumer, as represented and guaranteed by the brand. AM

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