The overuse of antibiotics in human and animal medicine is undermining modern medicine’s ability to cure life-threatening infections. Globally the incidence of dangerous, pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to the effects of antibiotics are increasing.
Ten million people a year could die from untreatable antibiotic-resistant infections by 2050, if we fail to take decisive action now.
Worldwide it is estimated that 66% of all antibiotics are used in animals, not people. Much of this use is routine, enabling livestock to be kept in unhygienic and stressful conditions where disease spreads easily.
In the UK, routine farm antibiotic use has been significantly reduced in recent years, by approximately 50%. But use remains far too high. Over 75% of farm antibiotics are used for mass medication in the UK, rather than for the treatment of individual sick animals.
The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics brings together health, medical, civil-society, farming, and animal-welfare groups and campaigns to stop the overuse of antibiotics in animal farming. It was founded in 2009 by Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain.
Fixing the food system is a global challenge. The countries and regions of the UK all have a vital role to play. Farming does not just produce the food we eat but is also central to efforts to tackle the nature, climate, and public health crises. We want to see strong leadership from the UK governments and administrations aimed at transforming the food and farming system and ensuring diets sit within planetary boundaries. Human and animal health must be protected by a shift to sustainable food systems that avoid routine antibiotic use and deliver good animal welfare. Farmers must be adequately supported and rewarded for the part they play in achieving this shift.
Our vision is a world in which human and animal health and wellbeing are protected by food and farming systems that do not rely on routine antibiotic use.
The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics supports:
1. Better regulation and more responsible use of farm antibiotics.
This should include:
2. One Health trade rules
Trade policies should prevent the UK from importing food that has been produced with irresponsible antibiotic use. The import of food produced with antibiotic growth promoters should be banned and the import of food produced with other forms of routine use, such as preventative group treatments, should be phased out.
3. New measures and regulations aimed at improving farm animal health and husbandry
Antibiotic-reduction strategies must ensure that farm animals are kept in less intensive conditions with, wherever possible, access to the outdoors. Measures aimed at improving husbandry standards must include reducing stocking densities, improving health at weaning and avoiding the use of breeds of animals that require higher levels of antibiotic use.
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