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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



Farm animals such as cattle, sheep and goats are prone to infection from a series of parasites including nematode worms, which pose the greatest threat to animal welfare, productivity and overall food safety. The current state-of-the-art treatment for worm infections involves drugs called anthelmintics. However, there are concerns over cost plus their impact on the environment, consumer health and the emergence of resistance, thus limiting their long-term suitability as the treatment of choice.

The EC-funded PARASOL project can now propose a new solution to solve problems associated with current practices. Realising the importance of anthelmintics in the long-term fight against nematode infections, the PARASOL consortium proposes the adoption of an innovative approach towards infection treatment, i.e. the administration of drugs only to those animals exhibiting clinical symptoms or decreased productivity. This Targeted Selective Treatments (TST) method aims at a rational use of resources over the long term, while at the same time reducing the risk of resistance.


Globally, anti-nematode control relies mostly on anthelmintics, and the related costs reach approximately €2.8 billion, the bulk of which is spent in Europe, the USA and Australasia. These costs are incurred by farmers and passed on to consumers. Currently, drugs are given to all animals in a herd, whether or not they display symptoms of nematode infection. This practice increases costs dramatically while the unnecessary use of drugs raises the risk of resistance to anthelmintics.

The novelty of TST lies in the fact that it does not burden healthy or symptom-free animals with unnecessary drug treatments, limiting them only to the livestock that need it. In effect, the method ensures a huge reduction in inputs and minimises the anthelmintic residue in food products such as milk, meat and wool but also on the environment.

The PARASOL consortium is investigating the effects of TST on a number of factors including productivity and animal welfare, as well as the spread of resistance genes in a variety of farming conditions. In addition, partners are working on the best methods of identifying the animals that need anthelmintic intervention, and on the assessment and development of resistance detection kits. These key innovations in farming practices will be communicated directly to stakeholders, including farmers, veterinarians and advisors, among others, through a comprehensive communication plan.


The PARASOL project takes off at a time when anthelmintic resistance is increasing at an alarming rate in farms, not only within the EU but also in INCO (International Cooperation) countries, with potentially devastating consequences. The low input and sustainable practices proposed with TST may prove to be the answer in guaranteeing long-term animal welfare and food safety in this area. An important aspect of the project is to understand the molecular processes behind these drug treatments, and use the emerging knowledge to improve on current treatments and on the proposed TST.

Animal research experts from northern and southern Europe, as well as Africa are now coming together under the PARASOL consortium to cooperate and exchange knowledge on the different farming practices in their regions that might affect TST. Farms across the EU, and as far as South Africa and Morocco, are expected to benefit, protecting their levels of productivity (which can be reduced by as much as 50% in certain cases of infection), and ensuring their economic viability.

List of Partners

  • Ghent University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Laboratory of Parasitology (Belgium)
  • University of Bath, Department of Biology & Biochemistry (UK)
  • University of Bristol, School of Veterinary Medicine (UK)
  • INRA, Laboratories of Multiresistance and Anthelmintics, and Ecology and Genetics of Parasites (France)
  • University of Veterinary Medicine, Institute for Parasitology (Germany)
  • National Veterinary Institute and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Biomedicine and Veterinary Public Health, SWEPAR (Sweden)
  • Moredun Research Institute (UK)
  • Parasitological Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences (Slovakia)
  • University of Pretoria, Departments of Veterinary Tropical Diseases and Large Animal Production (South Africa)
  • Institute for Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine Hassan II, Parasitology Department (Morocco)
  • Aristotle University, Laboratory of Parasitology and Parasitic Diseases (Greece)
  • University of Naples “Federico II”, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Pathology and Animal Health,(Italy)
  • Innovis, Peithyll Centre (UK)
  • National Wool Growers’ Association (South Africa)
  • SVANOVA Biotech (Sweden)
  • Plantamedium and Propago (Germany)
  • Fränz & Jaeger (Germany)
Full title:
Novel solutions for the sustainable control of nematodes in ruminants
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Jozef Vercruysse, Pierre Dorny Universiteit Gent,
EC Scientific Officer:
Isabel Minguez Tudela,
EU contribution:
€ 2.9M
Specific Targeted Research Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top