EU agrees legislation to tackle antibiotic resistance with new measures

Rising concern about resistance to antibiotic treatment – and the potentially catastrophic consequences for humans and animals – is behind an agreement just reached on new measures in animal feed production.

This was revealed by Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament today (Wednesday, June 20).

McGuinness welcomed the agreement reached in Brussels between the parliament and council.

This agreement will see a ban on prophylactic use of antibiotics – in other words preventative use – and restrictions on the metaphylactic use – or treating a group of animals where one is infected – as part of an overall move to ensure that antibiotics are used only as necessary, according to the MEP.

“Using antibiotics to enhance performance is not permitted under any circumstances,” McGuinness said.

“And veterinary inspection and prescription of antibiotics will be necessary, allowed only when the risk of infection is high and there is no appropriate alternative.

“Medicated feed is a useful way to administer antibiotics where necessary compared with other methods, and can be more precise in targeting animal diseases.”

Later today the Environment, Food Safety and Public Health Committee of the European Parliament will vote in favour of revised Veterinary Medicines legislation also aimed at tackling the growing threat of Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR).

Together with the agreement on medicated food, these two pieces of legislation are aimed at ensuring antibiotics are used only under prescription and that antibiotics critical for human medicine use are not used in animal production, the MEP said.

“This marks an important development designed to stem what has become a major threat to health, one that if it is not addressed and allowed to get out of hand, could have catastrophic consequences for humans and animals.

“Human and animal health are intrinsically linked and both depend on our health ecosystem,” she says.

We’re being warned by scientists that we may be on the cusp of a ‘post-antibiotic era’. The World Health Organisation predicts that AMR will lead to even more deaths than cancer.

“Scientists have identified bacteria capable of resisting the drug of last resort – colistin – in patients and livestock in China. It is likely resistance emerged after colistin was overused in farm animals.”

“If this were to escalate common infections would kill once again – while surgery and cancer therapies, which are reliant on antibiotics, would also be under threat,” she concluded.