Farming and Antibiotics

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an increasing global public health threat, that requires urgent and co-ordinated action across all sectors. Whilst most of the focus has been on human use of antibiotics, there is now “compelling” scientific evidence that antibiotic resistance is being transmitted from farm animals to humans. Yet  the overuse of these medications in the farming sector continues. And despite opposition from the European Medicines Agency and several European countries, routine, purely preventative dosing of groups of healthy animals remains legal within the EU.

The excessive use of antibiotics in livestock is largely driven by industrialised, intensive and unsustainable forms of farming that increase both the supply of and demand for meat and animal products. These intensive farming systems have implications, not just for antibiotic resistance, but also for other aspects of our health, the environment and for animal welfare. A shift to more sustainable food systems requires us, among other things, to reduce our consumption of animal products and shift towards less intensive systems of production.

“A way forward would be to acknowledge that human health, animal health, and the environment are all interlinked, and that the responsibility for dealing with the problems of resistance is shared by all stakeholders.”

Lancet Infectious Disease Commission 2013

The medical and health community have a mandate to engage in this conversation and support the drive for necessary changes to both policy and practice.      

Medact are working closely with Alliance to Save our Antibiotics (ASOA) to call the government to take the following actions:

  • Set a target for reducing farm antibiotic use by 50% by 2020 and by 80% by 2025 including a target to cut the use of critically important antibiotics by 80% by 2020 and 95% by 2025.
  • Ban all preventative mass medication in feed or water, except for where disease has been diagnosed in some animals.
  • Annual national surveillance data on the human health impacts of antimicrobial resistance.