'Disappointment' as MEPs vote to stop use of antibiotics

UK farming unions have expressed their disappointment after MEPs backed attempts to end the prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock farming which could impact on the welfare of livestock.

The European Parliament yesterday (Thursday) voted in favour of a resolution on ‘The public health threat of antimicrobial resistance’ which called to end the use of preventative medicines.

Dawn Howard, from the UK farming union’s Brussels office, praised the European Parliament for raising the profile of antimicrobial resistance, but said the final vote highlighted the need for a better understanding of farming practices.

“This is an animal welfare issue. In certain cases and 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 the call to end the prophylactic use of veterinary medicines goes directly against a resolution adopted by all MEPs in May this year. That resolution from Agriculture Committee chairman Paolo De Castro sensibly called on the Commission 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.

Mrs Howard added farmers were already reacting to any potential risk by using antimicrobial medicines responsibly. 

“Farmers recognise 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,” she said.

“The UK farming unions actively promote the responsible use of veterinary products within UK agriculture. NFU (England and 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.”

Readers' comments (20)

  • The precautionary principle has to be paramount here; well done the MEPs for voting the way they have. Farmers need to reassess their industrial livestock keeping; inevitably in overcrowded insanitary conditions - the average broiler shed for instance - animals will become sick. We cannot afford to waste further the gift antibiotics have given to human health.

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  • Bang on Rose, especially as these anti biotics are becoming less effective due to overuse in animals and humans

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  • Rosie Marshall's sweeping statement shows her ignorance. I agree with the principals of the debate but british farmers do not keep animals in "overcrowded insanitary conditions" it is unlawful impractical and unprofitable. The ignorant few sadly have the biggest mouths.

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  • Just a look at the top story about the pig farm and the attached photo is contrary to your point.

    The day broiler chickens and other factory animal pursuits end will be a great day. Your not farms nor farmers and should nt be represented by the Nfu .

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  • The pigs in the photo look neither overcrowded and definately do not look to be in insanitary conditions to any educated individual.
    As for your last point about the NFU I presume you are suggesting I am a factory Farmer. I am not but I applaud those who are because they are Farming to some of the highest standards in the world if they are in the UK. They have to be or they would not be able to carry on.
    How the ignorant would feed the world is beyond me. Last point Rosie may be way off the mark but at least she puts her name to her misguided rubbish. The anonymous posters above do not even have that in their favour.

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  • Same old feed the world response.
    If you want to do that feed the people the grain and not the animal.

    I pity you if you think factory farming is ok. And you call me ignorant - just because that is what the law requires does not means it's good .

    Macerators are RSPCA approved I suppose you call chicks on a coveyer belt fed into a mincer alive humane? What a sad thought some think this acceptable

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  • And if those are natural pig conditions count me out- I'll buy pork from local farms where I can pick the pig from an enclosure outdoors about 5 times the size of that .

    And the farmers I speak to agree so dont do the whole attack in farming line which usually comes after the feed the world one

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  • And the names fluff

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  • 3 nameless numpties !
    Your simplistic attitudes are playground like.
    There are none so blind as those who will not see.
    Difficult to have a discussion if one side do not even have the courage of their convictions to put their name to their views. Speaks volumes realy.

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  • Fluff

    The those that see comment could be directed at yourself. Would your forefathers who created the farming industry be proud of the machines we have created which keep animals indoors all year, which send day old chicks into a mincer. Was this Gods vision when he made man realise if he sharpened that stick he could hunt?

    Sorry I abhor factory intensive 'farming' and I'm glad you don't .

    James tell me, if these industrial farms are doing it the right way why do they never advertise or show pictures on the products.

    Why do hatcheries/ intensive farms not have an image of the hen conditions on the packet or on tv ads if they are confident all is natural?

    Or label food as ' intensively reared indoors'?

    Maybe I'm not the only one who can't see?

    And to feed 7 billion - the eu and the west need to take the shackles off Africa , a continent far bigger and resource rich than all of Europe - but that will never happen


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