European Commission proposals updating regulations on farm antibiotics use ignore advice from the Lancet Infectious Diseases Commission to phase out routine preventative use, according to the UK-based ‘Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics’.

The Alliance is campaigning for a phase out or ban of the routine preventative use of antibiotics, when no disease has been diagnosed, in farm animals in the EU.

Alison Craig, Campaign Manager for the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, said that the European Commission has stated it doesn’t support the routine preventative use of antibiotics on farms, but still backs legislation which makes it legal.

“Antibiotic growth promoters are nominally banned in the EU. But the truth is that many of the same antibiotics can still be given to the same animals when no disease has been diagnosed. This is why, as the House of Commons Science and Technology recently said in their report on antibiotic resistance, the total veterinary use of tetracycline antibiotics has increased nearly tenfold and that of penicillin-type antibiotics has increased nearly fivefold since they were banned as growth promoters.

“Governments and MEPs who are serious about avoiding the ‘apocalyptic scenario’, whereby people in the future may die from routine infections because of antibiotic resistance, must ensure that a ban on all routine use of antibiotics in farming is added to the Commission’s proposals.

“The Commission itself warns in its proposals that “the use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicinal products may accelerate the emergence and spread of resistant micro-organisms and may compromise the effective use of the already limited number of existing antimicrobials to treat human infections. Therefore the misuse of antimicrobials should not be allowed.”