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Weekly Overview: Europe Considers Ways to Overcome Antimicrobial Resistance

22 November 2012

ANALYSIS - The European Parliament has been discussing how to tackle the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance this week, a topic also addressed by the German vets' association last week in a satellite conference to the EuroTier show. Involving human and veterinary medicine and every country, an easy solution looks very unlikely. New outbreaks of bird flu have been reported in Australia - the first for 15 years - and in Bangladesh.

The changing face of the livestock sector in Europe has brought with it different challenges over residues in meat, dairy and food products. This week, the European Parliament is discussing a draft resolution on antibiotic use.

In general, in the more developed agricultural nations in the EU, such as the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, food is being produced with larger herds and flocks and by fewer farmers. Fewer producers are producing more and more of the food and in the UK, some estimates have 20 per cent of the producers producing 80 per cent of the meat, milk and eggs that are consumed.

At the Animal Health Event, which was held as a satellite meeting to the EuroTier trade show in Hanover, Germany, last week, the focus was also on antibiotics - on their future use in food animals and how best to achieve the optimum health and well-being of the livestock.

Antibiotic use in veterinary medicine is one of the major challenges faced by veterinarians, said Dr Hans-Joachim Götz, President of Germany's Federal Association of Practising Veterinarians.

The timing of the event was fitting, he said, as an Antibiotic Awareness Day was scheduled in Brussels for 18 November, ahead of a discussion in the European Parliament to draft the resolution on antibiotic use.

Antibiotic resistance is a global issue, said Dr Dr Götz. Whilst vets cannot provide the solutions, he sees it as positive that the profession is to be consulted before the next legislation on the issue is drawn up in Germany.

"The law needs to make sense," Dr Götz stressed.

In the US, opinions are divided over the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to deny a waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Livestock producers and their organisations have declared their 'extreme disappointment' at the decision.

Finally, turning to bird flu news, there has been an outbreak in a 50,000-bird free-range layer flock in New South Wales, the first outbreak in Australia since 1997. So far, it seems to have been contained. A new outbreak of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza has also been reported near Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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