Our Campaign

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics

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.

 

Our Principles

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics supports:

  • A One Health approach to dealing with antibiotic resistance which aims at achieving optimal health outcomes and recognises that human, animal and environmental health are all interconnected
  • Improved husbandry methods that ensure animals are almost always healthy enough not to need antibiotics or other forms of routine medication
  • Greater openness and transparency regarding how animal food products are produced

 

Our 3 Campaign Aims

1. Better regulation and more responsible use of farm antibiotics.

This should include:

  • A UK ban on all routine use of antibiotics and all preventative use of antibiotics in groups of animals.
  • Most farm antibiotic use should be for individual sick animals. Group treatments should be exceptional and only permitted where there is a diagnosed disease outbreak and a high risk that the disease will spread in the group.
  • Antibiotics designated as High-Priority Critically Important in human medicine (modern cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones) should be restricted to use in individual sick animals where sensitivity testing has shown other antibiotics are unlikely to work. Critically Important antibiotics should never be used preventatively and never for treating groups of animals.
  • A complete ban on the use in livestock of the antibiotic colistin, which is used as a last-resort antibiotic in human medicine.
  • Routine collection and publication of national data on antibiotic use by animal species and farming system, such as intensive, higher-welfare indoor systems, pasture fed, outdoor reared, free range and organic.
  • Adoption of antibiotics policies by influential food-system players, such as public sector food procurement, supermarkets, food manufacturers and foodservice companies that do not permit irresponsible antibiotic use and promote good husbandry methods

 

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.

 

Our recent activity

Our research and reports are widely read and cited - see our publicationsAnd for ongoing updates to our work and the latest on farm antibiotic issues, please subscribe to our newsletter

  • In May 2024, Cóilín took part in a webinar being organised for AMR experts by the UN Foundation. This was being held in preparation for the September UNGA event, and may be the first in a series of meetings
  • In May 2024, Cóilín gave an online presentation for the Antibiotic Resistance Coalition for a webinar being held in preparation for the September UNGA, focusing on our work on supermarkets and catering companies, but also covering the new UK regulations
  • In April 2024, Cóilín gave an online presentation for a conference on AMR organised by the Centre for Science and Environment in India, an NGO that we have worked with many times before. The conference was being held because of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly High-level meeting on AMR due to be held on 26 September
  • In April 2024, we were invited by Baroness Natalie Bennett to participate in a consultation/roundtable discussion about a Private Members Bill aimed at reducing the use of biocides that select for antibiotic resistance in cosmetic products
  • In February 2024, we released a report "How to End the Misuse of Antibiotics in Farming" and organised a parliamentary event to coincide with the report launch
  • In October 2023, we released a report on the antibiotic policies of contract catering companies.
  • In June 2023, we wrote to over 25 MPs and asked them to "ask your party manifesto policy writers to include a robust and specific commitment to address antibiotic resistance and the contribution animal agriculture makes to that resistance"
  • We provided an antibiotics policy toolkit to contract catering companies in advance of our assessment on their policies 
  • We’ve been helping behind the scenes with investigations into imports of chicken from Poland
  • We gave a presentation at the Compassion in World Farming conference, with a host of international experts
  • Our report on environmental testing helped generate political interest in the issue of antibiotic resistance
  • We submitted evidence to several UK and international consultations

 

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