There has been an alarming rise in new farm superbugs passing to humans, particularly MRSA and E.coli, according to a new report by the recently founded Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics.

There has been an alarming rise in new farm superbugs passing to humans, particularly MRSA and E.coli, according to a new report by the recently founded Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics.

Compassion introduces Antibiotic Anna to Brussels, on behalf of The Alliance. She represents the prophylactic use of antibiotics on factory farmed animals.The report, entitled Case Study of a Health Crisis, links this rise to the fact that nearly 50% of all antibiotics are used in farming, and argues that one of the fundamental causes of food and animal-related antibiotic resistance is factory farming.

The alliance, which consists of Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain, launched its first report to coincide with the expected publication of the European Commission’s 5-year strategy on antimicrobial resistance (Nov 17) and European Antibiotic Awareness Day (Nov 18).

The alliance is calling for the overall use of antibiotics on EU farms to be halved by 2015 – with an emphasis on ending all routine, prophylactic use. It also wants major restrictions placed on the farm use of antibiotics that are “critically important” in human medicine.

Case Study of a Health CrisisThe report claims that vets must shoulder the responsibility of implementing reduction strategies, but says that everyone – farmers, retailers, consumers, doctors and regulators – need to play a part in ensuring a farming industry that is not reliant on the use of non-essential antibiotics.

Joyce D’Silva, director of public affairs at Compassion in World Farming, said: “Farm animals in the EU are being routinely treated with antibiotics as a cheap insurance policy. This indiscriminate overuse on the factory farm makes a world without effective antibiotics for humans ever more likely.”

The report recognises the essential need to retain antibiotic treatment for sick animals, to prevent suffering and maintain good animal welfare, but argues this too can be significantly reduced by improving the conditions under which most farm animals are kept.

Soil Association policy advisor Richard Young said: “Organic farmers have shown it is entirely possible to raise healthy animals with minimal use of antibiotics. We cannot get rid of factory farming overnight, but we could immediately start a Europe-wide programme of change to look after animals in ways that naturally keep them healthy.”

 


Main image: Compassion in World Farming
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