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Wednesday 23 May 2018

Farmers may not be allowed to use some antibiotics on sick animals under new regulations

The World Health Organisation warns antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to
global health, food security and development. Stock picture
The World Health Organisation warns antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development. Stock picture
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

EU agriculture minsters will next week discuss new proposals which will restrict the use of certain antibiotics on farms.

Ministers will be informed on the state of play of the proposal on veterinary medicinal products and on the worked carried out at technical level in the last six months.

The proposed regulation on veterinary medicinal products was tabled by the Commission in September 2014 and aims to: increase the availability of veterinary medicinal products, reduce the administrative burden, stimulate competitiveness and innovation, improve the functioning of the internal market, and also to address the public health risk of antimicrobial resistance.

To that end, the existing rules - in particular the ones on the procedures for granting marketing authorisations as well as the procedures for the monitoring of side effects of veterinary medicinal products, are simplified with a view to enhance the development of suitable medicines for animals in the EU and their availability for all animal species from horses to bees or aquatic animals.

However, in order to best fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to help keep antibiotics effective in both animals and humans, the proposal also introduces the possibility of restricting the authorisation and use in animals of certain antimicrobials that are reserved to treat life threatening human infections.

A recent EU report shows Irish farmers use one-eighth the amount of antibiotics used by farmers in Spain on a per animal basis - the Spanish are the highest users of antibiotics in the EU.

Although the use of antibiotics in Irish livestock is among the lowest in Europe, Conor Geraghty, food animal chair of Veterinary Ireland, says upskilling farmers is necessary to drive further change.

Speaking at a major veterinary conference, organised by MSD Animal Health at the RDS in Dublin recently, Mr Geraghty called for formal training to be added to the Government's Knowledge Transfer programme.

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"Farmers have to do training courses to spray nettles at the back of their farm but they can use antimicrobials without any training, so training is an important next step.

"We need to update the way we are doing it and make sure we are doing it correctly because you fall into habits over the years.

"It should be brought into the next half of the Knowledge Transfer, and everyone should attend workshop training on the responsible and safe use of medicines," he said.

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