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The use of antibiotics in farm animals is killing people

In response to David Cameron's announcement of a new expert review of the antibiotic resistance crisis, the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, which we are a founding member of, says the urgent reduction of antibiotic use in farming must become government policy.

Just under half of all antibiotics used in the UK are given to farm animals for treating or preventing the diseases caused by intensive farming.

Alison Craig, Campaign Manager of the Alliance says: “Although we welcome the plan to review the global over-use of antibiotics in the Prime Minister's announcement, this won't save lives.

“He needs to take action: to ban or phase out the routine preventative use of antibiotics on farms.”

The government has reported that 5,000 people die every year from antibiotic resistant E. Coli. Farm antibiotic use is contributing significantly to this problem and scientists are warning that ‘a large proportion of resistant E. coli isolates causing blood stream infections in people may be derived from food sources’.1

The Alliance is calling for the government to publish the total annual death toll caused by all antibiotic-resistant strains.

Dr Ron Daniels, Consultant in Critical Care at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, says:  “Bacteria that we are creating through widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture are increasingly now impacting on human health.

“There is a link between antibiotic use in farming and increases in resistance in pathogens present in humans. Intensive farming systems are at risk of increasing the problem of antibiotic resistance among animals and humans, which in turn will cost human lives.”

Take action

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics has launched a petition with 38 Degrees which more than 17,000 people have signed. Please sign and share the petition if you haven’t already.

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Vieira et al. 2011. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21883007