Compassion in World Farming and the Soil Association have written to the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, urging him to recognise the importance of statements made in the Chief Medical Officer's report on the problem of antimicrobial resistance being transferred from farm animals to humans.
The Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, claimed that 'resistant bacteria developing in animals could pose a threat to people. Antibiotics must be used in moderation in agricultural settings and only when necessary for animal welfare.'
'Every antibiotic expected by a patient, every unnecessary prescription written by a doctor, every uncompleted course of antibiotics, and every inappropriate or unnecessary use in animals or agriculture is potentially signing a death warrant for a future patient.'
While the Government has directly intervened to reduce usage in human medicine, it has relied instead on a range of voluntary initiatives by the farming, retail and pharmaceutical industries to encourage the 'responsible use' of antimicrobials. While we welcome these in principle, it is clear that in practice they do little to change the way in which antibiotics are currently used in agriculture.
Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming, says: "The responsible use of veterinary medicines is one thing; the routine use of antibiotics to keep animals in unhealthy intensive systems is another. It is imperative that Gordon Brown takes action to address the routine use of antibiotics in intensive farms for the benefit of both human health and animal welfare".
The publication of the Chief Medical Officer's Annual Report coincided with the launch of a documentary 'Sick as a pig', commissioned by the Soil Association, in conjunction with Compassion in World Farming, exposing the rise of a worrying new strain of MRSA in farm animals and its link to the continuing regular use of antibiotics in livestock feed.
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Read the Chief Medical Officer's report.
Watch Sick as a Pig now at the Ecologist website or explore the alternatives to intensive farming:
- Good agricultural practice: pig production, a book, film and PowerPoint presentation developed by Compassion in World Farming