A House of Commons early day motion on the use of antibiotics in intensive farming has been criticised by the Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Farming Alliance (RUMA) for displaying “a lack of understanding” of basic facts.

A House of Commons early day motion (EDM) on the use of antibiotics in intensive farming has been criticised by the Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Farming Alliance (RUMA).

Houses of ParliamentMotion 566 was backed by 17 MPs from across all the main parties including main sponsor Zach Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond Park.

The EDM called on the Government to take action to protect public health by reducing the use of antibiotics by vets and farmers and further called for steps to ensure that the ‘routine use’ of prophylactic antibiotics on UK farms be phased out.

Although the motion was not debated in the Commons, the fact it was put forward at all displays a lack of understanding of the basic facts, according to RUMA secretary general John Fitzgerald.

He said: “RUMA is disappointed by this EDM, which repeats and relies on some of the myths on the use of antibiotics in agriculture and the impact this has on antibiotic resistance in humans.

Mr FitzGerald also claimed there was scientific consensus that use of antimicrobials in human medicine, rather than antibiotic use in the veterinary sector, is the driving force for antibiotic resistant human infections.

RUMA secretary general John FitzGerald.He said: “RUMA supports the responsible use of all medicines and is concerned that simplistic numerical targets of reduced use can encourage irresponsible use; for example reduced dosage or time of treatment, which would increase the risk of resistance.”

Mr Fitzgerald also defended the preventative use of antibiotics on British farms.

He said: “There are many disease scenarios in livestock animals where prophylactic use of antibiotics is an essential part of responsible veterinary care for the protection of animal health and welfare.

“It must be emphasised that any such preventative and control treatment of animals is always under the control of the prescribing veterinary surgeon who will use diagnostic, clinical and epidemiological information to inform their prescribing decisions.”

Concluding, Mr Fitzgerald said RUMA would be pleased to meet with any or all of the MPs who sponsored the EDM to discuss their concerns about how antibiotics are used in farming.

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