Farm Ireland

Sunday 16 December 2018

MEPs call for ban on veterinary use of critical antibiotics

Antimicrobial resistance is being increasingly recognised as one of the world’s biggest problems in terms of human health.
Antimicrobial resistance is being increasingly recognised as one of the world’s biggest problems in terms of human health.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The EU should ensure prudent use of antimicrobials in farming, prohibit veterinary use of critical ones, support research and fight for global rules, Agriculture Committee said this week.

In an opinion for the lead Environment Committee, which responds to the EU Commission’s 2017 Action plan against antimicrobial resistance, members of the Agriculture Committee urge EU legislative and non-legislative actions to help farmers use less antibiotics in livestock and other farming sectors and administer them responsibly, and to reserve all critically important ones exclusively for humans.

EU draft laws on medicated feed and on veterinary medicinal products regulations, currently under negotiations between the Parliament and the Council, should address prophylactic use of antimicrobials and ensure that their metaphylactic use is allowed only in exceptional cases, MEPs say.

National Action Plans on antimicrobial resistance should set clearly defined, measurable and strictly monitored targets and benchmarks, and effective ways to achieve them, MEPs say and they ask the EU Commission to support member states in their endeavour.

Disease prevention as a first step

Disease prevention must be the first step in tackling antimicrobial resistance, says the approved text. To this end, livestock farming sector should focus on maintaining good hygiene, housing and animal husbandry and strict biosecurity measures and never use antibiotics as a compensation for lack of these, MEPs say.

Animals kept in confined and poor conditions tend to get higher doses of antibiotics, MEPs note. The future EU farming policy should therefore encourage on-farm investments in quality housing, ventilation, cleaning, disinfection, vaccination and bio-security and thus prevent incidence and spread of infections, they say.

No incentives for prescribing antibiotics

MEPs stress that veterinary practitioners should not receive incentives to prescribe, promote and supply certain medication and insist that prescription-only status for antibiotics, the cooperation between veterinarians and farmers and their accountability are key to the success.

They also call for EU-wide monitoring of veterinary antimicrobial sales and consumption in all domesticated animals.

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Further research, wider immunisation and public campaigns needed

MEPs call for more and globally coordinated research into new antimicrobials and their alternatives, including ways to strengthen natural defence abilities of animals. Immunisation by vaccination is a cost-effective health intervention that helps to combat antimicrobial resistance, they say, and insist on integrating the life-long vaccination into national action plans.

Education, training and public awareness campaigns based on latest science and aimed at prudent use of antibiotics, play a crucial role in the fight against antimicrobial resistance and so must be encouraged, also through proper funding, says the approved text.

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