MEPs Push For Ban On Prophylactics In Livestock Farming

27 October 2011
Alyn Smith MEP has today (Thursday) expressed concern at the call by the full European Parliament in Strasbourg for a complete ban on the prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock farming, calling it "too black and white", though otherwise welcoming the general direction of the resolution on antimicrobial resistance.
The vote was on a resolution of the European Parliament's Environment Committee on the public health threat of antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to public and animal health in Scotland and the EU, with rising numbers of cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and C. difficile in our hospitals. There have also been an increasing number of claims of links between the use of antibiotics for veterinary purposes and the development of resistance in humans.

Alyn said:

"I think the clear message to come out of today's vote, which has no immediate legal effect, is the urgent need for more research to be done into the suggested links between the use of antibiotics in livestock and resistance in humans.

"The black and white extremes of the resolution have been taken out in the final vote, and, if anything, have confirmed the fairly uncertain position of the Parliament as well as the wider scientific community on the alleged links. The passage which claimed that the use of prophylactics in livestock farming was due to "unsustainable agricultural practices" was as unfair as it was uncertain and I was pleased to see it taken out of the final text. There is always room for improvement on current practices but to suggest in such an arbitrary fashion that there is a direct link was not appropriate.

"What is needed now is a science-based assessment of the actual impact of the use of antibiotics on livestock, and the veterinary profession should consider themselves on notice. This is a growing problem and does need addressing, but today's resolution in its original shape would not have done that. I am glad to see some sense prevail."