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The impact of intensive farming on human health

News Section Icon Published 11/03/2013

In a new report published today: 'Antibiotic resistance - the impact of intensive farming on human health', the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics shows that the Government is still not facing up to the problems caused by the excessive use of antibiotics on farms.

On many intensive farms, antibiotics continue to be used routinely for disease prevention or for the treatment of avoidable outbreaks.

But the Governments claims there is no conclusive evidence that farm antibiotic use contributes to resistance in human infections.

The Alliance report shows that this is incorrect. Drawing on assessments by the World Health Organization and the European Food Safety Authority, the report shows that for some human infections, such as salmonella and campylobacter, farm antibiotic use is the principal cause of resistance.

The increasing use of two classes of antibiotics, on farms: the modern cephalosporins and the fluoroquinolones, is another major concern. This has led to the emergence of the highly resistant ESBL E. coli on many farms, and is also driving the spread of livestock-associated MRSA.

The Alliance, formed by Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain, is calling for:

  • A legally binding timetable for the phased ending of all routine preventative use of antibiotics.
  • A ban on the use of modern cephalosporins in poultry, pigs and for dry-cow therapy in cattle. Off-label use of these antibiotics should also be banned.
  • A ban on the use of fluoroquinolones in poultry.
  • New legislation aimed at ensuring that farm animals are kept in healthier, less intensive conditions, wherever possible with access to the outdoors.
  • Improved surveillance of antibiotic use and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in farm animals.


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