Growing resistance to antimicrobials could cost the world as much as $100 trillion (£76 tn) a year by 2050 unless efforts are made to tackle the issue, scientists have warned.
Prof Gilmore said antibodies, probiotics and vaccines appeared to be some of the most promising alternative strategies, but warned they could never replace antimicrobials entirely.
“We have no immediate solutions,” he added. “Even in 15 years we will not have any true replacements.”
Patrick Wall, professor of public health at University College Dublin, said vets and farmers needed to play their part to limit the spread of antibiotic resistance by taking a ‘different approach’ to animal health.
Mr Wall said: “We can manage without antibiotics, but the new normal needs to rely on disease prevention.
“We need to get vets focused on the health of the herd, not the individual, and we need to get farmers to tackle biosecurity issues.
“If we could get the farms with the lowest levels of biosecurity level with those at the top, this would be a quantum leap forward.”
In response, John FitzGerald, from the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA), said: “While antimicrobial resistance in human medicine is largely attributed to human use, we agree vets and farmers must play their part.”
He said this was why RUMA, comprising 25 UK organisations spanning almost all food-producing sectors, announced earlier this year it would be developing a task force to set sector-specific objectives for reducing, refining and replacing antibiotic use.
Strategies would be likely to include boosting natural immunity, improving hygiene and changing management practices.
“But the farming industry is already taking action,” he said.
“The British Poultry Council reports an overall reduction in antimicrobial use in the poultry meat sector of 44 per cent since 2012, including targeted action on use of antibiotics of critical importance to human medicine. The pig sector followed with the launch of its stewardship programme to encourage best practice in antibiotic use and data recording, and the cattle sectors were working closely with vets on gathering usage data.
“We also disagree it is possible to wholly ‘manage without antibiotics’ and support calls for increased investment in research and development to ensure vets and farmers have the necessary products to treat animals when they become sick.”