UK Government must adopt high regulatory standards for farm antibiotics when the UK leaves the EU

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is calling on the Government to ensure that its Repeal Bill, published today, fully converts EU legislation controlling farm antibiotic use into UK law. Any substantive changes to policies and standards should be made by primary legislation only, requiring a full and proper role for scientific and parliamentary scrutiny. The Government should also work with other EU countries urgently to put an end to all routine preventative farm antibiotic use.

Cóilín Nunan, of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, said: “Scientists and medics are warning we face a post-antibiotic era unless we take urgent action to restrict and reduce antibiotic use in both human and veterinary medicine [1]. The Government should be moving without further delay to ban routine preventative farm antibiotic use, just as several other European countries have already done [2]. Any attempt to use Brexit and the Repeal Bill as a backdoor means to avoiding implementation of the highest standards would be hugely irresponsible in an era of superbugs.”

In March 2016, the European Parliament voted by 95% in favour of new veterinary medicines regulations that would ban mass medication with antibiotics for groups of animals where no disease has been diagnosed within the group [3]. However, the ban has not yet become EU law because the regulations are still being discussed by European Union Member States. The British Government claims to support the proposed ban, but refuses to take regulatory action before the EU regulations are agreed.

These ongoing delays in the implementation of the new EU veterinary medicines regulations may mean that no ban on preventative mass medication with antibiotics will be included in UK law when the UK leaves the European Union in March 2019. The UK Government has not yet committed to banning preventative mass medication, and is instead relying on voluntary initiatives and industry pledges to reduce farm antibiotic use. The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics argues that either the Government must commit the UK now to legally binding standards, or to compliance with EU standards via the Repeal Bill.

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About The Author

Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.