17 May 1999
European ministers discuss antibiotics

By FWi staff

EUROPEAN agriculture ministers are examining a draft resolution aimed at developing an overall strategy against the spread of antibiotic resistance in livestock.

The resolution, entitled “A strategy against the microbial threat”, calls on European Union (EU) countries to contain the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics are routinely added to some livestock feeds as a means of promoting growth rates in farm animals.

But critics claim the practice is responsible for an increase in resistance to medicinal antibiotics among humans who consume meat products.

The subject is being discussed by agriculture ministers today in Brussels before a draft resolution is adopted by European health ministers at a meeting on June 8.

The resolution calls for EU member states to raise the awareness of farmers, health professionals and the general public to the problem of antibiotic resistance.

It calls for individual governments to promote health-oriented livestock production systems which would reduce the need for antibiotics in animal feed.

Furthermore, the European Commission will be invited to prioritise the monitoring of antibiotic resistance in human medicine.

Commission officials will also be called on to promote additional research work with regard to the evolution of antibiotic resistance.

Such work would include studies into the transmissibility of resistant bacteria in humans, animal populations and the environment.

The possible transmission of antibiotic resistance potentially linked to the use of antibiotic resistance markers in genetically modified food would also be examined.

Other research would investigate the use of effective alternatives to antibiotics as a means of preventing and controlling communicable diseases.