Post-Brexit antibiotic usage fears raised by campaign group

The UK government has been called upon to work with EU member states to end routine preventative on-farm antibiotic use. 

The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics has demanded that the government prioritises decreasing the use of antibiotics with the UK’s livestock herds when it leaves the EU in 2019.

“Scientists and medics are warning we face a post-antibiotic era unless we take urgent action to restrict and reduce antibiotic use in both human and veterinary medicine,” said Cóilín Nunan, principal scientific adviser to the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics.

“The government should be moving without further delay to ban routine preventative farm antibiotic use, just as several other European countries have already done. Any attempt to use Brexit and the Repeal Bill as a backdoor means to avoiding implementation of the highest standards would be hugely irresponsible in an era of the superbugs.”

Politicians have previously voiced their support for banning mass medication with antibiotics where no disease has been diagnosed within a group of animals. In March 2016, the European Parliament voted by 95% in favour of new medicines regulations that would support the action. The ban has not yet become EU law as member states are still discussing regulations. The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics said the British government supported the ban, but claimed that it was hesitant to take regulatory action before EU regulations had been agreed.

The Alliance fears that delays mean no regulation will be passed before the UK leaves the EU in two years. It is now requesting that the government either commit the UK to legally binding standards, or comply to EU standards.

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