EC claimed to ignore scientific advice on livestock antibiotics


The European Commission (EC) has ignored scientists’ warnings on the overuse of antibiotics in farmed animals, according to the Soil Association.

The organisation said that EC proposals, published last week (10 September), ignore advice from the Lancet Infectious Diseases Commission to phase out routine preventative use.

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, created by the Soil Association, Sustain and Compassion in World Farming, is calling for the overall use of antibiotics on EU farms to be halved by 2015 and to end to all routine, prophylactic use. However, the Soil Association reported that the EC has new proposals disregarding expert advice, as well as its own statements on the subject.

Alison Craig, campaign manager for the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, said: “The European Commission and the British government have both stated they don’t support the routine preventative use of antibiotics on farms, but both still back legislation which makes it legal.”

The Soil Association said the Commission itself reported in its proposals that “the use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicinal products may accelerate the emergence and spread of resistant micro-organisms and may compromise the effective use of the already limited number of existing antimicrobials to treat human infections. Therefore the misuse of antimicrobials should not be allowed.”

Craig added: “Antibiotic growth promoters are nominally banned in the EU. But the truth is that many of the same antibiotics can still be given to the same animals when no disease has been diagnosed. This is why, as the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee recently said in its report on antibiotic resistance, the total veterinary use of tetracycline antibiotics has increased nearly tenfold and that of penicillin-type antibiotics has increased nearly fivefold since they were banned as growth promoters.

“Governments and MEPs who are serious about avoiding the ‘apocalyptic scenario’ that the chief medical officer has been describing, whereby people in the future may die from routine infections because of antibiotic resistance, must ensure that a ban on all routine use of antibiotics in farming is added to the Commission’s proposals”.

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