Campaign to cut farm antibiotic use

Environment and animal welfare campaigners have joined forces to call for a 50% reduction in antibiotic use on farms.

Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain have formed the “Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics”.

The alliance blamed excessive antibiotic use on farms for a rise in antibiotic resistance and incidence of superbugs in humans, such as E coli and the flesh-eating bug MRSA.

It said nearly 50% of all antibiotics were used in farming, most commonly in the pig, poultry and dairy sectors and claimed that the fundamental causes of food and animal-related antibiotic resistance was “factory farming”.

The alliance’s report came as the EU Commission launched a 12-point plan to tackle antibiotic resistance and called for farmers play a key role.

Launching the plan on 17 November, Brussels’ officials warned that 25,000 patients died every year in the EU from infections caused by drug resistant bacteria.

European health policy commissioner, John Dalli said: “We need to take swift and determined action if we do not want to lose antimicrobial medicines as essential treatment against bacterial infections in both people and animals.

“The 12 actions for the next five years could help limit the spread of anti-microbial resistance and help develop new anti-microbial treatment.

“Their success requires joined efforts from the EU, the Member States, health care professionals, the industry and farmers,” he said.

The proposal sets out what it termed 12 concrete actions.

Brussels’ 12 concrete Actions to combat antibiotic resistance

• Improve awareness of appropriate use of antimicrobials
• Strengthen EU law on veterinary medicines and on medicated feed
• Introduce recommendations for prudent use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine, including follow-up reports
• Strengthen infection prevention and control in hospitals, clinics.
• Introduce legal tools to tighten prevention and control of infections in animals in the new EU – Animal Health Law
• Promote collaboration to bring new antimicrobials to patients
• Promote efforts to analyse the need for new antibiotics in veterinary medicine
• Develop and/or strengthen multilateral and bilateral commitments for the prevention and control of resistance
• Strengthen surveillance of resistance and antimicrobial consumption in human medicines
• Strengthen surveillance systems on antimicrobial consumption in animal medicines
• Reinforce and co-ordinate research
• Improve communication on resistance to the public.