Global leaders call for reduction in antimicrobials used in food systems

Global leaders and experts have called for a significant and urgent reduction in the amounts of antimicrobials – including antibiotics – used in food systems.

This includes stopping the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs to promote growth in healthy animals, and using antimicrobial drugs more responsibly overall.

Ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit, which takes place in New York in September, the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (GLGAR) said a reduction is “critical” to combatting rising levels of drug resistance.

The Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance includes heads of state, government ministers, and leaders from private sector and civil society. The group was established in November 2020 to accelerate global political momentum, leadership and action on antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

All countries around the world are being asked to respond to the reduced-antimicrobial call.

In Ireland, approximately 230 veterinary anti-parasitic and anti-coccidial medicines will be impacted by changes to veterinary medicines regulations in 2022 when new new EU rules (Regulation (EU) 2019/6) come into effect.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has confirmed to Agriland that the prescription status of approximately 230 medicines will change, meaning that they will require a prescription after January 2022.

Current antimicrobial usage in humans, animals and plants is leading to a concerning rise in drug-resistance and making infections harder to treat. Climate change may also be contributing to an increase in antimicrobial resistance, according to the GLGAR.

Drug-resistant diseases already cause at least 700,000 human deaths globally every year.

Key calls to action for all countries include:

  1. Ending the use of antimicrobial drugs that are of critical importance to human medicine to promote growth in animals;
  2. Limiting the amount of antimicrobial drugs administered to prevent infection in healthy animals and plants and ensuring that all use is performed with regulatory oversight;
  3. Eliminating or significantly reducing over-the-counter sales of antimicrobial drugs that are important for medical or veterinary purposes;
  4. Reducing the overall need for antimicrobial drugs by improving infection prevention and control, hygeine, biosecurity and vaccination programmes in agriculture and aquaculture;
  5. Ensuring access to quality and affordable antimicrobials for animal and human health and promoting innovation of evidence based and sustainable alternatives to antimicrobials in food systems.