NOAH highlights existing “responsible use” of antimicrobials in agriculture

Seeking to apply the “antibiotics in farming standards” which are being achieved in Denmark to other parts of the EU and the world, may not be workable, warns NOAH (National Office of Animal Health) in response to the newly published O’Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

While giving a general welcome to the review, NOAH chair, Catherine Sayer, states that farmers and veterinary surgeons in the UK, supported by the animal medicines sector, already use antibiotics responsibly, applying them “as little as possible, but as often as necessary”.

“In the UK, organisations such as RUMA (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture) are already making practical steps towards reducing antibiotic use, by setting out responsible use guidelines which aim to reduce the need for antibiotics through biosecurity, vaccination and other animal husbandry measures where possible,” she said.

“However, we must remember that animal species types, husbandry practices and climate conditions vary around the world. Any proposals to apply standards from, for example, Denmark to other parts of the EU and the world, may not be workable.”

Pledging that NOAH will continue to work with the others involved in the production of food from UK animals to encourage responsible use of all animal medicine, she also said that the association believes that improved recording and monitoring of where and how antibiotics are used by vets and farmers is required.

“Treating animals when needed is a legal responsibility,” said Ms Sayer (pictured above). “European and national animal welfare legislation requires farmers to ensure their livestock receive appropriate treatment without delay, and the veterinary surgeons who prescribe antibiotics are committed to making animal health and welfare their first concern, while prescribing responsibly.

“NOAH would oppose any proposals encouraging farmers not to treat sick animals, because of the negative animal welfare outcomes that would arise.”

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Freelance journalist Colin Ley is Pig World's website news reporter