The chairman of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) has stood up for the efforts of farmers, their vets and the supply chain in reducing antibiotic use as it claimed a new fund-raising campaign could “demotivate” such activity.

RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones said the amount of antibiotics prescribed in feed for young pigs has halved as part of "remarkable progress and tremendous commitment from all involved".
RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones said the amount of antibiotics prescribed in feed for young pigs has halved as part of “remarkable progress and tremendous commitment from all involved”.

Gwyn Jones was responding to the Soil Association’s antibiotic resistance campaign, which seeks organic farming standards on most, if not all, farms, to combat the issue.

Plea

In asking for donations, the campaign says: “The level of agreement is now so great that industrial livestock farmers and the drug companies have been unable to ignore it.

“They agree antibiotic use in farming must be cut, and the British poultry industry has already taken some positive steps in line with our campaign demands.

“But the job is only half done – and you are needed more than ever. Intensive livestock farmers and the drug industry are still in denial about how to solve the problem.

“They claim how we keep, treat and feed farm animals has nothing to do with how often they get sick and how many antibiotics they need. This is wrong.”

Alienate

In response, Mr Jones said: “Denigrating certain farming systems is likely to alienate and demotivate the vast number of first-rate conventional farmers across the UK who are already implementing change to play their part in tackling this global issue – it’s probably not an approach many of our excellent organic farmers will feel entirely comfortable with either.

RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones.
Gwyn Jones: “Efforts to divide… when we should all be working together, are unhelpful.”

“Furthermore, antibiotic resistance is a one health issue across human and animal medicine, with good progress being made in both; efforts to divide along these lines, when we should all be working together, are unhelpful.”

Mr Jones challenged the Soil Association to acknowledge where headway was being made.

Commitment

He said: “A 10% reduction in antibiotic sales into the farming industry in a year, a halving in antibiotics prescribed in feed for young pigs and poultry meat companies stopping all use of preventive antibiotics can only be described as remarkable progress and tremendous commitment from all involved.

“These changes are supported by vets, as well as retailer and processor supply chains, who are already acutely aware of the issue of antibiotic resistance and are being both proactive and resourceful in enabling producers to make sustainable changes.

“Good hygiene, husbandry, housing and welfare, as identified by the Soil Association itself, are all factors in achieving these.

“But antibiotics, prescribed by a vet and used responsibly, also remain important medicines for preserving animal health and welfare.”

Disagreement

Following Mr Jones’ comments, the Soil Association told Veterinary Times it was unsurprised by them as the alliance “mainly represents the pharmaceutical and the intensive-farming industries”, and has been “the leading UK body lobbying against any and all regulatory attempts to end routine mass medication with antibiotics”.

The association also said the claim it had failed to recognise the progress made in reducing antibiotic use was false.

Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett said: “Far from taking an obstructive approach, as RUMA suggests, we have been working with the wider agricultural industry on areas of mutual interest for some time – we are working with organic and non-organic farmers alike through field labs such as how to reduce the antibiotic treatment of mastitis, for example.

“The industry’s own statements effectively vindicate our position. The Soil Association will continue to argue improving animal health and welfare is better for the animals, environment and human health.

“Relying on routine dosing with harmful chemicals, when the industry itself acknowledges it could avoid doing this, should not be the way forward.”

View your activity >

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar

wpDiscuz

related content

Red Tractor has announced all vets registered on its pig assurance scheme must be members of the Pig Veterinary Society from 1 October.

3 mins

A leading veterinary dermatologist has called for vets to prescribe narrow-spectrum antibiotics for first-line cases of otitis externa to help reduce levels of multiple-resistant, chronic infections.

5 mins

CVO Nigel Gibbens has welcomed the publication of the world’s largest pig welfare study, which assessed 5,463,348 pigs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the course of three years.

5 mins

Mateusz Jaksz and Claudia Busse in the second of a two-part article, look at the diagnosis, as well as medical and surgical treatment, of this condition.

25 mins

Andrew Kent looks at the aetiology, diagnosis, treatment options and monitoring of this common condition presenting in dogs

30 mins

Elisabetta Mancinelli discusses best practices for ensuring the right water intake for rabbits and rodents.

26 mins