Overuse of antibiotics in farming is creating deadly drug resistance, warns MEP

Molly is calling for antibiotics to be restricted to the treatment of acute illness in animals rather than being used routinely.
Molly is calling for antibiotics to be restricted to the treatment of acute illness in animals rather than being used routinely.

A new investigation has revealed the scale of overuse of antibiotics in farming and how it is contributing to deadly drug resistance – a crisis predicted to kill one person every 3 seconds by 2050.

The study, commissioned by the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics, tested 189 samples of UK-origin pork and chicken meat from the seven largest supermarkets across the UK. The results reveal that pig and chicken meat from every supermarket harboured E.coli bacteria which were resistant to three highly important antibiotics. The report concludes that, “overuse of antibiotics on British farms is undermining the treatment of dangerous E.coli infections in humans.”

Greens in Europe have called for an end to the use of antibiotics as a routine preventive measure for food-producing animals, or as a whole group treatment where there has been no diagnosis of disease. They have also argued successfully for critically important antimicrobials (CIAs) to be restricted as far as possible for human use alone.

Molly, who sits on the Agricultural Committee in the European Parliament, and has been involved in drafting legislation on antibiotic usage in agriculture, said:  

“This report exposes the life-threatening extent of antibiotic overuse in British farming. Greens say that good farm hygiene must be implemented as a preventive measure against disease and that antibiotics should be restricted to the treatment of acute illness in animals, rather than being used routinely or mixed into animal feed; measures the whole Parliament has wholeheartedly supported.

“There is also clearly a link between intensive rearing and high density stocking and the spread of disease. We need to ensure that human and animal health is put before the interests and profits of industrial scale farming.”

Molly is also Green Party speaker on EU relations and has called on the government to ensure that the highest EU standards on food and farming are maintained post-Brexit and that any future subsidies are used to help create systems of farming that promote animal health and welfare. She said:

“The emerging EU legislation on the use of antibiotics in farming is setting a global standard for the sensible use of these drugs that are so essential for human health. It is vital that the UK government adopt the highest standards that emerge from this legislative process. We also need to ensure that any new subsidies for agriculture in the UK post-Brexit should prioritise a transition away from intensive farming and towards an environmentally and ecologically sustainable agriculture industry.”