Alliance calls for 50% reduction in antibiotics

An alliance, composed of Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), The Soil Association and Sustain, has released a report to raise awareness on the dangers of antibiotics overuse in farm animals. The launch coincides with European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2011.

“Antibiotics have had a huge effect on human health. We have developed a resistance to them because they are used for prophylactic purposes on factory farm animals that are not even sick,” a CIWF spokesperson said.

The report calls for a 50% reduction of antibiotic use on EU farm animals by 2015. “We are hoping to change the way that animals are farmed at the moment,” the spokesperson added. According to the alliance, antibiotics should only be used to treat sick livestock, and not as a prevention measure.

Richard Young, Soil Association policy advisor, 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.”

About the use of antibiotics on livestock, NFU animal health and welfare adviser Catherine McLaughlin said: “Farmers recognise the threat to human and animal health of antimicrobial resistance and we take the issue extremely seriously. The NFU is an active member of the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) which promotes the responsible use of antimicrobials. We believe that antimicrobials should be used as little as possible, but as much as necessary to protect the health and welfare of animals.”

> The dangers of antibiotics