Antibiotic usage must be strictly controlled says new European food safety commissioner

The use of antibiotics by veterinary surgeons needs to be “strictly controlled” with no scope for their use outside of combatting disease, says the new European commissioner-designate for health and food safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis.

Addressing MEPs during his “approval” hearing by the European Parliament, the commissioner-designate acknowledged that a lot of antibiotics are currently being used for veterinary purposes and that rules already exist to prohibit their use as animal growth promoters, a status with which he agreed.

“They must only be used to combat diseases, and this must be strictly controlled,” he added, while also promising that he would “tackle” the antibiotics issues and look into potential “action plans” early in his term of office.

Mr Andriukaitis, who was nominated by Lithuania for the commissioner position, was also asked how he would fight to protect EU food standards in trade talks with the US.

“I can pledge that I will not agree to the lowering of EU standards on food safety,” he said, adding that there was no room for compromise on this issue.

He also responded to questions on animal cloning and GM crop production.

On cloning, he said that such an approach, when used for food purposes was a “very complex ethical issue”, especially with many MEPs and the general public holding very different opinions.  He saw himself as an “honest broker” on the issue, adding that he believed there was a need for “extreme caution” in relation to cloning.

On GM crops, he said this was an area he would be addressing “right from the start” of his term of office on November 1.

“I will immediately have to take measures, looking at the whole package of rules, as the current rules create conflict,” he said. “In my opinion the sovereignty and subsidiarity of member states must be respected on this issue.”

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