The Flanders research institute for agriculture, fisheries and food (ILVO) is a scientific research institute and service organization of the Flemish Government that stands for multidisciplinary, independent research and specialized service provision in all fields related to agriculture, fisheries and food in Flanders. ILVO helps to promote sustainable agriculture, fisheries and agri-food in Flanders, Belgium, Europe and the world. ILVO works for the actors in the agriculture, fisheries and agri-food chain and for the broader rural environment by studying new and existing processes of optimization and sustainability with integrity and in proactive and objective way. ILVO engages in dialogue with policy, stakeholders and society on a regular basis and strives to uphold an exemplary function. Its research topics range from plant and animal sciences, agricultural and food technology to agricultural economics and rural development. Research at the institute is performed in four units: Animal Sciences, Technology and Food Science, Plant Sciences and Social Sciences. In the DISARM project, EV-ILVO is the official partner. EV-ILVO has been created within ILVO as a separate legal entity (own capital). Two units participate in the DISARM project: the Social Sciences Unit and the Technology and Food Sciences Unit.
The Social Sciences Unit studies decisions in agricultural and food systems and in the rural environment, their drivers and impact. This unit has ample expertise on governance, agricultural economics, farm management, social learning, advisory and innovation system and rural development processes. This unit will be in charge of the coordination of DISARM and will also be leader of the Multi-Actor Farm Health Plan work package on coaching farmers and their veterinarians, feed suppliers and other relevant actors in developing farm-specific action plans to improve farm health and reduce the need for antibiotics.
The Technology and Food Sciences Unit comprises three research areas (Agricultural Engineering, Food Safety, and Product Quality and Innovation). Research and services are performed in technical, mathematical and IT methods supporting mechanisation and automation in production; in food safety (microbiological and chemical, inclusive of antibiotic residues and antimicrobial resistance detection) and quality of all types of foodstuffs; in development of methods to detect GMOs and allergens and to determine authenticity; in valorisation of food products. In DISARM, this unit will give support to diverse work packages devoted to communication and dissemination, state of the art literature, community of practice, all related to reduction of antibiotics usage on farms.
Prof. Dr. Ir. Erwin Wauters, an agricultural economist, is senior researcher on the economic, institutional and social aspects of farming and food systems. One of his research lines is dedicated to the economic, social and institutional aspects of improving animal health. For several years, he was part-time guest professor Economics of Livestock Production and Health at the University of Antwerp and currently he is also part-time professor Economics at Ghent University.
Dr. Ir Frederik Leen, animal scientist with a background in animal nutrition and agricultural business economics. His doctoral research was focused on combining both hard sciences (economic and animal sciences) with soft sciences (qualitative research methodologies) in the development of a decision support tool for the optimization of pig production. Currently, he is coordinating the H2020 thematic network: “Disseminating Innovative Solutions for Antibiotic Resistance Management”
Prof. Dr. Marc Heyndrickx, PhD in microbiology in 1991, is scientific director responsible for the research and service on food safety. One of the research lines is the detection/quantification and characterization of antibiotic residues and antimicrobial resistant bacteria in a One Health context including animal farming and the agricultural environment. He is visiting professor in bacterial zoonoses at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Ghent University.
Dr. Laura Peeters obtained a Master degree in Veterinary Medicine in 2009. After some years in veterinary practice, she started a research project on the effects of cross-contamination of pig feed with antimicrobials on resistance selection. This research led to her PhD dissertation entitled ‘Carry-over of tetracyclines and sulphonamides-trimethoprim in pig feed – Resistance selection in the pig microbiota caused by doxycycline’ at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Ghent University. After a research project on poultry gut health at the same Faculty, she joined the Technology and Food Science unit of ILVO as a research associate, where she is involved in different projects.