28 May 1999

Action on antibiotics expected

AN EU Commission working group is expected to recommend tighter controls on the use of four antibiotic growth promoters when it reports to the EUs Scientific Steering Committee today (Friday).

The working group has been considering avilamycin, bambermycin, monensin sodium and salinamycin, all currently freely available in growth promoter products, and concerns over the potential transfer of antibiotic resistance to humans.

It is understood that the group will recommend a restriction on product use and call for the drugs to be limited to veterinary prescribed health programmes only.

A decision taken last December to ban the use of a further antibiotic – zinc bacitracin – could be reversed, however, and it will instead be brought under the suggested new veterinary controls.

Richard Young, of the Soil Association – the organic body which is lobbying for a ban on the use of all antibiotic growth promoters – said: "We are most concerned about the continued use of avilamycin, which is related to a modern antibiotic used in human medicine. We will continue to call for a complete ban on the use of this product in agriculture."