8 May 2000
Fewer antibiotics used in farming
By FWi staff
THE use of antibiotics on farms is continuing to fall significantly, according to figures released by the government on Monday (8 May).
Sales of antibiotics rose steadily between 1993 and 1996. But by 1998 they had dropped to pre-1994 levels, said the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.
The publication of the figures was announced by junior agriculture minister Baroness Hayman. It is the first time such information has been readily available.
The move is part of a government strategy to improve public knowledge about the use of antibiotics in agriculture.
Ministers want to reduce the veterinary use of antibiotic products, to assist in combating human resistance to bacteria targeted by medicines.
The emergence of antibiotic resistance in humans has led to increasing concerns about the use of the products in animal production systems.
In 1996, the use of antibiotics relating to farm animals accounted for 629 tonnes of active ingredient. By 1998 this figure had dropped to 522t.
The decline was achieved despite an increase in the total live weight of livestock slaughtered during the period, reveal the statistics.