22 May 1998

Industry says yes to use of antibiotics for growth

Industry calls for a unified national farm assurance scheme,

continued use of antibiotic growth promoters and better co-

ordination of research funding were to the fore at last weeks

British Pig and Poultry Fair, at the NAC, Stoneleigh, Warwicks.

Emma Penny, Sue Rider and Simon Wragg joined the

18,000 other visitors and report over the next five pages

CONTINUED use of antibiotic growth promoters received backing from all sides of the industry at this weeks Pig and Poultry Fair, but there was agreement that more effort must be put into educating the consumer.

One retailer has already stated it recognises the welfare implication of a potential ban on antibiotic growth promoters, particularly in pigs under 35kg liveweight. Chris Challinor, pig agriculturist for Tesco, the only retailer at the event, said: "It is not an option."

But the firms Judith Abrehart said consumers must be convinced of their safety for retailers to continue to accept their use. "For consumers it is a black-and-white issue. Where we can, we will go with the science, but consumers opinion is important. At the end of the day, they buy the product," she said.

BPA chief executive, Grenville Welsh, said both industry and retailers must work together to educate the consumer. "It needs a more sensible attitude than the hysteria that surrounded BSE."

NFU pigs committee chairman, Graham England, echoed that view. "The media must act responsibly," he said.

But the union said producers must look for alternatives. Should scientists identify a significant risk then many in the industry will back a ban. Senior vice-president of the Pig Veterinary Society, Christianne Glossop, said: "If it is scientifically proven that there is anti-bacterial resistance to growth promoters then I believe the PVS would back a ban."

But Dalgety technical and marketing director for pigs, Mick Hazzledine, said the firms calculations suggested the removal of growth promoters would cost an average 40p a finished pig due to lower feed conversion performance.

Tescos Chris Challinor… Growth promoter ban not an option for pigs under 35kg lw.

Business was brisk at this years busy Pig and Poultry Fair, where the latest technical developments were on show for the two days.