EU Vote for More Antibiotic Responsibility, Research Welcomed

EU - EU farmers' organisation Copa and Cogeca have welcomed a vote by MEPs to update EU law on veterinary medicines but outline some concerns.
calendar icon 14 March 2016
clock icon 3 minute read

In a vote at plenary session on proposed updates to an EU law on veterinary medicines, MEPs this week advocated banning collective and preventive antibiotic treatment of animals, and backed measures to stimulate research into new medicines.

“With the World Health Organisation warning us that the world risks drifting into a post-antibiotic era, in which antibiotic resistance would cause more deaths each year than cancer, it is high time we took energetic measures and grasped the problem at its roots,” said rapporteur Françoise Grossetête (EPP, FR), representing the MEPs.

“The fight against antibiotic resistance must start on farms. We wish to prohibit the purely preventive use of antibiotics, restrict collective treatment to very specific cases, prohibit the veterinary use of antibiotics that are critically important for human medicine and put an end to online sales of antibiotics, vaccines and psychotropic substances. Thanks to these measures, we hope to reduce the amounts of antibiotics found on consumers’ plates,” she added.

“However we need not reduce the therapeutic arsenal available to vets. This law aims to facilitate their work. It is absolutely necessary to encourage research and innovation in this sector,” she concluded.

Copa and Cogeca said it is committed to promoting the concept of the responsible use of antibiotics in farm animals.  

In an initial reaction, Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said: “We welcome European Parliaments vote, but we still need to wait some years before the first results will be in the market.

He continued: “Livestock farmers respect good animal husbandry principles and it’s our view that antibiotics must be used responsibly. We are members of the European Platform for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Animals (EPRUMA) and believe that antibiotics should be used 'as little as possible, and as much as necessary.'

"Banning the use of certain antibiotics for animals could lead for example to animal welfare problems, as in some places or for some species, these are the only authorised antibiotics.”

Outlining key areas of concern, he said: “We do not believe that a ban on the prophylactic use of antibiotics is justified.

"The responsible use of antimicrobials is crucial and although we realise that there needs to be specific requirements for food producing animals compared to pets, the correct use of prophylaxis is a good veterinary practice.

"We also have concerns on the on-line ban on antibiotics and prescription-only veterinary medicines.

"On-line sales of Veterinary Medicinal Products offer some advantages in terms of availability and the cost of medicines.

"Indeed, considering its crucial role, Copa and Cogeca believe that the proposal should be more precise about how to ensure the correct functioning of this distribution channel and the development of a safer on-line system in coordination with the competent national and European authorities.”

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