The UK now lags behind the EU on this critical legislation to help tackle the antibiotic-resistance crisis, which threatens to undermine much of modern medicine.
The systematic overuse of antibiotics in human and animal medicine is undermining our ability to cure life-threatening infections in people, by greatly increasing the spread of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Scientists predict that 10 million people a year could die from antibiotic resistant infections by 2050.
Cóilín Nunan of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics said: “How many more years is Defra going to keep on delaying before it does its job? The government says that using antibiotics routinely or to compensate for poor animal husbandry is unacceptable, but its lack of action means that the UK is now one of the only countries in Western Europe where these misuses of antibiotics remain legal. Farmers and vets have already taken action to cut farm antibiotic use, but much larger cuts are still needed, and they are only likely to happen if the government introduces new legislation.”
Marking World Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Awareness week (18 – 24 November) , the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is calling on the UK government to finally live up to its commitments and produce new legislation which prohibits feeding antibiotics to animals routinely and end the use of antibiotics to control diseases caused by inadequate animal husbandry and poor hygiene.
The Westminster government has been promising new regulations for over five-years but continues to delay taking action. As a result, the UK has fallen behind the European Union (EU) where these practices were banned on 28 January 2022.
The EU rules on the use of farm antibiotics include a ban on using antibiotics preventatively on a whole herd or flock basis. They were agreed in 2018, when the UK was still a member of the EU. Both the UK and the EU agreed that much stricter rules on farm antibiotic use were needed to help tackle the antibiotic-resistance crisis, which threatens to undermine much of modern medicine.
The latest data published by the government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate shows that the sales of farm antibiotics in the UK have fallen by 59% since 2014 . This welcome reduction has occurred as a result of voluntary action by farmers, vets, supermarkets and assurance schemes.
Despite the reductions, antibiotic use in UK pigs remains over four times higher per pig than in Sweden , where the animals are kept less intensively and all forms of routine antibiotic use are banned.
NOTES TO EDITOR