The Green Party is calling on members and supporters to sign a petition calling for a ban on the routine use of antibiotics in farmed animals.

It is supporting a campaign by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, comprising health, medical, environmental and animal welfare groups, which is working to stop the overuse of antibiotics in animal farming.

Vet Caroline Allen, the Green Party spokesman on animal issues, said it was increasingly clear overuse of antibiotics was putting the effectiveness of vital drugs at grave risk.

“The use of antibiotics to prop up a farming system where animals are kept in inhumane and completely unsuitable conditions, suffering great stress, is surely one of the great scandals of our time,” she said.

“Are we really willing to risk our ability to perform chemotherapy, routine surgical procedures and treat infections so we can eat a cheap burger?

The party says chief medical officer Sally Davies has warned a post-antibiotic era is approaching, in which common infections will again kill and routine operations such as hip replacements will become too risky. The World Health Organisation has called it a major global threat to public health.

According to the Greens, a significant number of studies show resistant bacteria are spreading from factory farms into the human population.

The alliance was founded by Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain in 2009. It has produced a new briefing in which it asserts the reason antibiotics are being overused in farming is that factory-farmed animals are at high risk of infection.

It calls for urgent action, including a legally binding timetable to phase out routine “preventive” use of antibiotics on farms.

The National Office of Animal Health (NOAH), has also produced a briefing paper on antimicrobials in veterinary medicines, to help inform MPs and peers.

It says clinical issues with antimicrobial resistance facing human medicine are primarily the result of antibiotic use in people, rather than animals and antimicrobials are necessary for vets and farmers to preserve animal health and welfare.

It does not believe antimicrobials should be used routinely to compensate for poor animal husbandry and hygiene, but maintains vets need to retain access to the full range of antimicrobials.

To sign the alliance petition, visit www.ciwf.org.uk/our-campaigns/antibiotics-health-crisis

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