We welcome European Parliament committee’s decision to curb farm animal antibiotic use

22 February 2016

Last week European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Food Safety and Public Health voted for antibiotics to be restricted and used more responsibly on animals – we are very pleased that this progress has been made.

The new recommended rules restricting antibiotic use would be a major step forward in promoting good health in farm animals in Europe. Due to the overuse of antibiotic drugs on animals (as well as people), vets and doctors are unable to combat new antibiotic resistant bugs. The development of new antibiotics is unable to keep pace so people and animals can end up suffering.

Our European Programmes Director, Emma Slawinski, said, “We welcome this vote as a significant step forward, and hope these vital measures to control the irresponsible use of antibiotics in farming will be adopted in full. While we support the responsible use of antibiotics to treat sick animals, we are opposed to the routine use of antibiotics to keep animals in poor welfare conditions.”

It is estimated that up to 40-80% of antibiotic use on farm animals is unnecessary or highly questionable. It’s great to see progress in Europe, but this inappropriate use and abuse of antibiotics in farming should also be tackled internationally.

And as well as global governments, the farming industry also needs to act. This means committing to achieve good practice, using methods including improved biosecurity and hygiene, reducing animal stress, using vaccination effectively and maximise resistance to bacteria through better nutrition and health.

Antibiotics shouldn’t replace animal welfare

The conditions in which animals are raised in are also incredibly important in achieving good animal health. By phasing out the worst methods and practices of production such as the use of cages, and crowded or barren conditions, farm animals will be less stressed, less likely to suffer illness and less dependent on antibiotics.

We’re working to improve the lives of 70 billion farm animals, find out more on our Animals in farming page.

"We welcome this vote as a significant step forward, and hope these vital measures to control the irresponsible use of antibiotics in farming will be adopted in full."

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