Search icon

The future of antibiotics

News Icon 06/11/2014

Compassion was part of an event held at the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM), last week.

A representative from the Ministry for Rural Affairs, Sweden, stated at the RSM: “Antibiotic bacterial resistance knows no borders. We need to move away from antibiotic use that masks poor animal husbandry.

“Healthy animals do not need antibiotics. We are all responsible: doctors, vets, policy makers, consumers.” I couldn’t agree more.

Let’s only treat our farm animals if they are sick. Let’s keep them in less intensive environments so that disease doesn’t spread so easily. Let’s prevent yet more people getting sick and preserve the medicine we have that could save them.

Worrying new research has shown that the livestock-associated strain of CC398 MRSA is spreading from animals to humans much more frequently than the human-associated strain is spreading in the other direction.

The scientists found that the livestock-associated strain of CC398 is much more antibiotic resistant than the more human-adapted strain, and that the strain’s enhanced drug resistance in livestock is likely to be the result of widespread use of antibiotics on farms.

It’s clear that our use of antibiotics must be radically altered, or we will soon reach the point where common infections become untreatable. Something previously seen as minor could now become life-threatening.

And one of the causes? Almost half of all antibiotics in the UK are given to farm animals, often on a routine, preventative basis, when no disease is diagnosed. The government must set targets for farm antibiotic use reduction in the UK. It is crazy that there is a target for medical antibiotic use reduction but not one for agriculture.

‘Antimicrobial resistance – the threat to health, and the need for antibiotic stewardship in the farming sector’ was organised by Medact, The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, of which Compassion in World Farming is a founding member, and the RSM. Never has this subject been more relevant than now.


You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).