19 June 1998
NOAH doubts Swedes’ motives
for antibiotic ban

THE representative body for the animal health trade, NOAH, has defended the veterinary use of antibiotics and suggested that Scandinavian countries have raised resistance fears to serve their own political agenda.

NOAH chairman Bill Hird claimed that the call by Scandinavian countries for an EU-wide ban on antibiotic growth promoters was driven by political and not scientific motives.

“Sweden has already banned the use of antibiotics as growth enhancers and their call for a widening of the ban is seen by some as an attempt to preserve their own high-cost agricultural production,” said Mr Hird.

The Scandinavians had already been successful in muddying the water, and now the issue of antibiotic use had reached policy level. And he described a meeting of EU ministers to debate veterinary use of antibiotics, planned for September, as “pivotal” to the future use of the drugs.

NOAH director Roger Cook said it was essential that all sides of the argument were represented accurately.

“Food safety is a key issue in this debate and antibiotics are a major factor in reducing salmonella. Their role in food safety must not be overlooked,” he warned.

All animal medicines were controlled stringently in their licensing and use. But Mr Cook urged responsible use and marketing of antibiotics.

At the briefing, former president of the British Veterinary Association, Karl Linklater, added that animal welfare should not be forgotten.

“The use of antibiotics in farm animals has not only had significant economic benefits for livestock but has also made enormous contributions to animal welfare.

“Some antibiotics have been used in agricultural production for 40 years without difficulty,” said Prof Linklater.

  • For this and other stories, see Farmers Weekly, 19-25 June, 1998

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