New legislation aimed at ending the overuse of antibiotics in farming has been approved by the European Parliament today, 25 October 2018. The legislation will ban preventative mass medication of groups of healthy animals from 2022.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when organisms develop mutations that render antibiotics ineffective. The World Health Organization has called for ‘critically important drugs’, those that treat human diseases when nothing else is effective, to be banned for use in livestock.
The legislation approved by the European Parliament today is referred to as the Veterinary medicinal products package. It still needs to be formally approved by the Council of the European Union, even though agreement in trilogue was announced earlier this year.
“Healthy farm animals should not be dosed with antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics in farming exists to support monstrous farming practices in low-welfare, cramped conditions," said Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU. "Preventive mass medication of healthy animals makes antibiotics increasingly resistant to superbugs that attack human health. We need to save our antibiotics to treat unhealthy people who desperately need them, not healthy animals who don’t!”
Estimates suggest that farm animals account for 73% of the world’s antibiotics use. In the EU, two thirds of our antibiotics are used by ‘food animals.’
“We warmly welcome today’s vote," continued Olga. "Although we would have hoped that the ban would be more comprehensive, it is an important step for both human health and animal welfare. Now let’s make sure the legislation is properly implemented and enforced!”