Letters to the Editor

Click on author name to view affiliation information

Journal clubs for veterinary practitioners

I enjoyed the description of a virtual journal club devoted to veterinary pharmacology,1 and I applaud the authors for forming and maintaining their group. Given that the title of the commentary included veterinary practitioners, I would have liked to see additional advice or best practices for a private practice setting. A just-in-time mindset for acquiring new knowledge for application to patients or production animals might be more appealing. Veterinarians could join virtually with individuals in similar types of practice and use the steps of evidence-based veterinary medicine (EBVM) as a template for selecting reading material. This process starts by identifying a specific clinical knowledge need in the form of a question in the PICO format: patient or population, intervention, comparison, and outcome. Some other ideas for making a journal club seem less of an academic or research-oriented exercise would include the following:

  • • Use the steps of EBVM to guide the process.2

  • • Read the literature to answer the clinical question, rather than just to read the latest studies.

  • • Use freely available or easily accessed tools to appraise the quality of the evidence.3,4

  • • Apply the evidence to animals in practice.

These ideas might make the process of reading the literature more compelling and, in the end, lead to better outcomes in veterinary practice.

Virginia R. Fajt, dvm, phd

Past President, Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Association Texas A&M University College Station, Tex

  • 1. Llewelyn VK, Sitovs A, Tikhomirov M, et al. Journal clubs: an educational tool for veterinary practitioners. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2020;256:869871.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2. Riege L, Haimerl P, Arlt SP. Improving decision-making in complicated or rare cases—an approach towards evidence-based veterinary medicine in small animal reproduction [published online ahead of print Feb 24, 2020]. Reprod Domest Anim doi: 10.1111/rda.13622.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3. EBVM Network. EBVM Learning 2015. Available at: www.ebvmlearning.org/. Accessed May 14, 2020.

  • 4. O'Connor A, Fajt V. Evaluating treatment options for common bovine diseases using published data and clinical experience. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract 2015;31:115.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

More on veterinary medicine and global food security

In her recent letter to the editor, Dr. Reyes-Illg1 refers to a report from the Food and Agricultural Association of the United Nations stating that the livestock sector is responsible for a higher share of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than the transportation sector. However, Mottet and Steinfeld2 point out that this compares direct and indirect emissions from the livestock sector (determined by means of life-cycle analysis) with only direct emissions from the transportation sector. When considering only direct emissions, they suggest that the transportation sector accounts for approximately 14% of all GHG emissions from human activities, while the livestock sector accounts for only 5%. This is consistent with figures reported by the US Environmental Protection Agency.3

Livestock, especially ruminants, produce methane as part of their normal digestive processes, and methane has about 28 times the warming potential of CO2 over 100 years. However, methane is a short-lived GHG that is converted to water vapor and CO2 over about 10 years.4 Thus, the net warming potential of livestock may be less than suggested.

Dr. Reyes-Illg correctly states that globally, approximately 70% of agricultural land is devoted to livestock production and suggests that shifting to nonanimal food sources could help in meeting emerging global food security needs. However, many livestock systems use marginal agricultural land that is challenging for use in other agricultural activities. Furthermore, a recent paper5 evaluating the human carrying capacity of the United States (ie, persons fed per unit land area) under 10 diet scenarios suggested that although carrying capacity was higher for diets with less meat and highest for a lacto-vegetarian diet, the carrying capacity of a vegan diet was lower than that of two omnivorous diets that were studied.

In the livestock sector, water use efficiency (ie, water used per unit of product) has improved dramatically as yield per animal has increased, spreading fixed animal maintenance and replacement costs over more units of product. For example, in 2007, dairy production used 35% of the water needed in 1944 to produce a kilogram of milk.5 Similarly, crop yields have increased dramatically in the past 60 years, with 30% of cropland needed to obtain the same crop volume produced in 1961. In her letter, Dr. Reyes-Illg suggested that “(m)eeting nutritional (including protein) needs via plant-based sources is generally more efficient than meeting them through animal sources.” However, this ignores the many studies that have shown great benefits (eg, increased cognitive development and reduced childhood stunting) from inclusion of animal products in diets.7

Global food security and rising demand for foods of animal origin present veterinary medicine with the complex, global problem of improving livestock health, welfare, and productive efficiency to meet this epic challenge.

Alan M. Kelly, bvsc, phd

Department of Pathobiology School of Veterinary Medicine University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pa

David T. Galligan, vmd, mba

Department of Clinical Studies New Bolton Center School of Veterinary Medicine University of Pennsylvania Kennett Square, Pa

Mo D. Salman, bvms, mpvm, phd

Animal Population Health Institute Department of Clinical Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colo

Bennie I. Osburn, dvm, phd

School of Veterinary Medicine University of California-Davis Davis, Calif

  • 1. Reyes-Illg G. Veterinary medicine and global food security (lett). J Am Vet Med Assoc 2020;256:1203.

  • 2. Mottet A, Steinfeld H. Cars or livestock: which contribute more to climate change? Thomson Reuters Foundation News. Available at: news.trust.org/item/20180918083629-d2wf0. Accessed May 6, 2020.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3. US Environmental Protection Agency. Inventory of US greenhouse gas emissions and sinks. Available at: www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks. Accessed May 7, 2020.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4. Mitloehner F. It's time to stop comparing meat emissions to flying. GHGGURU blog. Available at: ghgguru.faculty.ucdavis.edu/2019/11/13/its-time-to-stop-comparing-meat-emissions-to-flying/. Accessed May 6, 2020.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5. Peters CJ, Picardy J, Darrouzet-Nardi AF, et al. Carrying capacity of US agricultural land: ten diet scenarios. Elem Sci Anth 2016;4:000116. doi: 10.12952/journal.elementa.000116.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6. Capper JL, Cady RA, Bauman DE. The environmental impact of dairy production: 1944 compared with 2007. J Anim Sci 2009;87:21602167.

  • 7. Reynolds LP, Wulster-Radcliffe MC, Aaron DK, et al. Importance of animals in agricultural sustain-ability and food security. J Nutrition 2015;145:13771379.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 181 0 0
Full Text Views 518 491 288
PDF Downloads 42 26 0
Advertisement