Antimicrobial resistance problems aren’t going away – McGuinness

Everybody that’s involved in human and veterinary medicine needs to be aware of the dangers of the inappropriate use of antibiotics, according to Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness.

The Vice-President of the European Parliament spoke to AgriLand at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

She said: “Certainly, for the livestock sector, we are going to have to challenge ourselves to use antibiotics that are appropriate and use them in the way that they are meant to be used.

“There’s always a dispute with farmers about who should issue and prescribe antibiotics, and farmers don’t like the idea of extra costs.

“But, there’s a cost to it as a society and humanity if we lose access to drugs and antibiotics that protect our health.”

McGuinness also said that it’s important that farmers aren’t blamed for the problem, because “that’s not fair or appropriate”.

It means we have to be careful and we need research; there’s also a big challenge in terms of the industry being motivated by results to develop new antibiotics.

“We need to be aware of these issues because they are not going to go away. Those who are buying our products will be asking us about these issues, so we need to have answers before we are asked the question and we need to be prepared.”

She continued: “Across Europe, the intensive sectors are the areas where you would have – obviously – the most focus. When you’re intensive you need to use products to protect animal health.

“The first thing we had to do was find out what has been used and try and encourage farmers, either individually or collectively, to have a conversation around the use of antibiotics and to understand that it isn’t just their use on the farm; it may have consequences outside the farmgate.

I think all of us have a responsibility, veterinary practitioners have a particular role to play; but media, myself and others keep saying that this is an issue. It has been around for a while

“Sometimes it’s better to deal with an issue before you have a really serious problem and you have to take drastic action,” she concluded.