18 September 1998

Antibiotics for growth attack

ANTIBIOTICS used as growth promoters in farm animals are not justified and should be replaced with safer non-microbial alternatives, including better farming practices.

That was the majority view at a special conference on the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in humans, organised for the EUs chief medical officers in Copenhagen.

But, while acknowledging the seriousness of the issue, others called for a full risk assessment and more research before taking any further action in the area of animal nutrition. "The majority at the conference were from the human health and government fields. In that company, there was little chance everyone would applaud the use of antibiotics in animal nutrition," said Johan Vanhemelrijck, secretary general of animal health body, FEDESA.

But at least there was no pressure for an overnight ban, he said, with delegates favouring a phasing out as other alternatives emerged.

The conference also called for more monitoring and education on the use of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine, to help combat the problem of resistance. &#42