NFU Frustration on Preventative Meds

UK - MEPs have called for a ban the prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock farming, in a move which the NFU believes would have implications for stock welfare.
calendar icon 1 November 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

The European Parliament backed a resolution on ‘The public health threat of antimicrobial resistance’, which called to end the use of preventative medicines.

At the UK farming unions' Brussels office, Dawn Howard praised the parliament for raising awareness of the issue, but said the final vote highlighted the need for a better understanding of farming practices. “This is an animal welfare issue," she said.

She added: "In certain cases, acting on the sound advice of a trained animal vet, farmers need to use prophylactic treatment to ensure their livestock remain fit and healthy. We are extremely disappointed with the MEP vote.

"It is particularly frustrating given that it goes directly against a resolution adopted by all MEPs in May this year. That resolution from Agriculture Committee chairman Paolo De Castro called on the Commission to develop to develop a detailed review of the different ways in which antimicrobials are used prophylactically, in order to settle controversy over what is a routine prophylactic and what is an acceptable prophylactic."

Mrs Howard said more research must be done to determine if there is any link between antibiotic use in livestock and a resistance to antibiotics in humans.

"The links between antimicrobial use in animals and the impact on resistance in humans are not clear as stated in the resolution. We need more research to establish if there are clear links - and only when there is scientific evidence should the Commission draw up a legislative framework for action," she said.

She added that farmers were already reacting to any potential risk by using antimicrobial medicines responsibly.

"Farmers recognise that human health must be the overriding consideration guiding antimicrobial use and our combined industry efforts are therefore tailored to encourage responsible use of antimicrobials in farm animals in order to reduce any possibility of loss of efficacy in both animal and human treatment.

"The UK farming unions actively promote the responsible use of veterinary products within UK agriculture. The NFU (England & Wales) is a member of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) which has produced guidance on the responsible use of veterinary antimicrobials.

"We have been working with RUMA, at both national and EU level to promote the responsible use of antimicrobials and also to make available practical guidelines on the use of antimicrobials in pigs, poultry, cattle and sheep. Guidelines are also available on the responsible use of vaccines," she said.

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