The responsible use of veterinary medicines was high on the agenda at the “Healthy animals, healthy food, a healthy future” conference organised by the International Federation for Animal Health – Europe (IFAH-Europe).

Europe’s 467,000 cattle need protection from disease.

More than 100 European animal health and agrifood chain stakeholders, policy makers and other experts attended the event in Brussels to explore Europe’s role in animal health and global food challenges, as well as the role of innovation and consumer acceptance in animal production.

The conference was opened by Arunas Vinciunas, head of cabinet of the European commissioner for health and food safety, who outlined the three ways in which EU policies can help address food security:

  • by strengthening food chain sustainability and resilience against economically devastating crises in the area of food safety, plant and animal health
  • by enhancing resource efficiency through innovation
  • by reducing food waste

Hungarian chief veterinary officer Lajos Bognár went on to explain several big threats are facing the animal production industry, such as emerging diseases from known or unknown pathogens and the re-emerging of previous diseases.

Most importantly, the increasingly crowded nature of our world means we live in closer proximity to animals, allowing infections to pass more frequently between species.

Mr Bognár asserted veterinary medicines allow farmers to meet the growing demand for animal produce and also protect consumers from harmful food-borne pathogens or diseases transmissible between animals and people. In this context, Gwyn Jones, chairman of the European Platform for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Animals, highlighted the importance of antibiotics in improving and maintaining animal health and welfare as part of a holistic approach to minimising diseases.

With the legislation governing veterinary medicines and medicated feed in Europe on the agenda of the European parliament, Roxane Feller, IFAH-Europe’s secretary general, closed the debate by stressing the importance of more efficient and harmonised legislation to increase innovation and ensure the availability of all veterinary medicines across Europe. “A less complex licensing system could significantly lower the administrative burden in bringing new, innovative veterinary medicines to the market,” she said.

“This will not only allow us to react rapidly to emerging disease situations, but will also contribute to the sustainable supply of safe, high-quality and affordable food across Europe.”

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