UK Science minister David Willetts will urge his counterparts at the G8 summit to impose restrictions on the use of antibiotics including in animal production, claiming the spread of antibiotic resistance could be as damaging to humanity as climate change.
“Across the G8, we should regard the spread of antibiotic resistance as a global challenge that is up there with climate change, water stress and environmental damage, and there are genuine policy consequences that follow from that,” Willets told local media.
Farms in the UK, unlike in other non-EU countries, are not supposed to use antibiotics routinely, but the current monitoring of usage does not give government regulators enough information to decide how the drugs are used in practice.
Commenting on Willetts’ statement on antibiotics for the G8 Summit, the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) alliance secretary general John FitzGerald said: “The RUMA Alliance welcomes the Minister’s call for the G8 to regard the spread of antibiotic resistance as a global challenge and his comments on the need for responsible use of antibiotics in farming and human medicine.
“However, RUMA does not support a ban of all antibiotics in food production as this would be detrimental to animal health and welfare. All medicines on farm should be used as little as possible and as much as necessary. This means managing farms to minimise the risk of disease and using medicines only when required and then using them appropriately.
“Reducing dosages or the length of treatment simply to use less antibiotics to meet arbitrary reduction targets is not responsible use and would increase the risk of resistance.
“Antibiotic resistance is a complex issue and all groups need to work together to develop decisions based on sound science to manage the risks while allowing the optimum benefit to be gained from the use of antibiotics to treat humans and animals.”