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'Save Our Antibiotics' Alliance Formed

by 5m Editor
11 July 2011, at 10:22am

UK - Compassion in World Farming, Sustain, and The Soil Association welcome the joint letter from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Medical Association (BMA) on the use and misuse of antimicrobials.

It is very timely that the two bodies representing the professions responsible for administering the vast majority of antibiotics to humans and animals have put out such an unambiguous statement acknowledging the role of 'poor prescribing' in causing the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs and calling for 'responsible use', according to Compassion in World Farming.

There is little doubt that excessive reliance on antibiotics in intensive livestock farming is a key factor – globally, 50 per cent of all antibiotics are used on farm animals. Although UK usage is slightly lower at 40 to 42 per cent, of the 13 antibiotics frequently given to the feed or drinking water of pigs in the UK, 11 are closely related to drugs used in human medicine.

The Director-General of the World Health Organisation warned only last year that, 'the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era'.

In 2004-2005, a new strain of MRSA was found in pigs on Dutch farms and by 2006, it was estimated that 50 per cent of all Dutch pig farmers carried the strain. Just last month, the first-ever documented cases of MRSA were confirmed in British farm animals – with 15 cases of a completely new type of MRSA found in milk from dairy farms throughout England. These outbreaks and the major recorded increase in food-poisoning bacteria resistant to a range of antibiotics highlight the urgency for action.

That is why, as organisations representing both consumer and farming interests, Compassion in World Farming, Sustain and the Soil Association have formed the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics!

Joyce D'Silva of Compassion in World Farming said: "We welcome the letter from the BVA and BMA urging all vets and doctors to use these medicines critical to human and animal health more responsibly. Unfortunately in the UK, as in Europe and across the world, antibiotics are still being given to healthy animals as a cheap insurance policy against possible disease, often in the feed or drink of whole herds and flocks of livestock.

"The Alliance has been formed to raise awareness of this threat to human and animal health – and to help everyone, from doctors and vets to mums, families, consumers and retailers to take action to 'Save Our Antibiotics'. Politicians and the public need to heed the wake-up call from the WHO that we are indeed on the brink of a 'post-antibiotic era'.

To view the joint letter from BVA and BMA on antimicrobial resistance, click here.