The NPA has urged planners to consider the facts and ignore the scaremongering as they consider a proposal for a pig farm in Northern Ireland.
The proposed unit at Limavady has been criticised by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, which claims it will produce ‘significant risks of antibiotic-resistant pathogens spreading from the farm to local residents’.
The alliance said large intensive pig farms are frequently contaminated by antibiotic-resistant pathogens, while ‘numerous studies have found evidence that at least some of these bacteria can spread environmentally from the farms, endangering local communities’.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said ASOA’s claims amounted to ‘scaremongering propaganda’.
She said it was widely acknowledged that the vast majority of antibiotic resistance issues in human medicine stemmed from use of antibiotics in people but said the pig industry took its responsibilities ‘extremely seriously’.
Dr Davies stressed that the UK pig industry was taking steps across the board to reduce antibiotic use, a point reinforced by antibiotic sales figures for 2015, with further significant reductions expected to be recorded for 2016 and 2017.
“I would expect a more sensible response from the Alliance,” she said. “We are seeing huge strides from the pig industry in recording and reducing overall antibiotic, including in antibiotics considered to be critically important in human medicine.
“This is not a large farm by any standards and, as it would be over the threshold for environmental permitting, it would have to adhere to strict controls and be regularly monitored as part of the permit conditions.
“But it is too simplistic, anyway, to link usage of antibiotics to larger farms, where investment in buildings, technology and the best stockmanship and veterinary care can produce the most healthy herds.
“Agriculture is one of the most highly regulated industries and therefore concerns relating to odour, environmental impact and health would all have been addressed long before the site was built.
“We would hope that the planning authority would look at the facts provided by the independent advisor rather than listen to the scaremongering propaganda spread about by organisations with an ulterior motive.”