On 24th March, we took the fight against antimicrobial resistance to Parliament. A post-antibiotic era is not an apocalyptic fantasy, but a real possibility for the 21st century. Antibiotic resistance is developing faster than new antibiotics are being developed, and finding new antibiotics is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive.
It is estimated that just under half the total of all antibiotics used in the UK are given to farm animals. Wasteful farm antibiotic use can no longer be afforded.
The event was hosted by Zac Goldsmith MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Kerry McCarthy MP and Baroness Kate Parminter and organised by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, of which Compassion in World Farming is a founding member.
Who said what
Green MP Caroline Lucas said that we have to turn to “a free-range and more sustainable model – something that the public would be responsive to” before adding “we have choices – up until now we haven’t made terribly good ones.”
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, spoke eloquently. He said: “The medical establishment have been ringing alarm bells for quite some time. They have been speaking up, loud and clear for too long.” Labour MP Kerry McCarthy reiterated this point.
It is clear that the crisis is global, as the Lib Dem MP Kate Parminter highlighted: “We’ve got to look at international solutions. This is not on a UK basis.”
After the expert talks, a lively debate took place between speakers and invitees, including the need to reduce overconsumption of meat, because of the impact factory farming has on human health, the climate and animal welfare.
A representative from the German Embassy commented that in Germany, meat consumption is high and that maybe the solution is an educational issue. This week is Meat Free Week in the UK and Melissa Hobbs of Meat Free Week told the audience about this consumer campaign. Tracey Worcester of Farms not Factories, pointed out that “antibiotics are the Achilles heel of factory farming”.
We are focusing on solutions: Sweden has shown that it is possible to stop the routine preventative use of antibiotics in factory farming. Cóilín Nunan, of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, emphasized that “in Sweden – 90% of antibiotic treatments are individual treatments.”
In the UK, antibiotic use is not reducing, despite growing concerns about our resistance. This routine use contributes to antibiotic resistance and is linked with the 5,000 deaths a year in England from resistant bloodstream infections.
For all these reasons, we are asking for:
- A target for reducing farm antibiotic use by 50% by 2020 and by 80% by 2025.
- A ban on all presentative mass medication in feed or water, except for where disease has been diagnosed in some of the animals.
- Annual national surveillance data on the human health impacts of antimicrobial resistance, prioritising mortality data.
We must get the Government to stop antibiotics being used to prop up factory farming. Email your MP today.