On Friday, the government published its new 5-year Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance. The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, launched the plan saying that "Antimicrobial resistance is as big a danger to humanity as climate change or warfare. That's why we need an urgent global response."
The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics welcomes the new Action Plan, but is concerned about some glaring omissions.
Cóilín Nunan of the Alliance said: "We are encouraged that the Action Plan recognises the key role that higher-welfare farming systems can play in reducing the need for antibiotics in farming.
But it is remarkable that in the government's 97-page document, there is not a single mention of EU's landmark decision to ban the practice of feeding antibiotics to groups of healthy animals. The ban will come into force in January 2022, and all the indications are that the government wants to use Brexit as an opportunity to avoid it.
This means the UK could end up with some of the weakest regulatory standards in Europe, which raises questions about the kind of trade deals we will be seeking with countries like the US and China that use extremely high levels of antibiotics in farming.
If the government really believes in higher-health farming systems, it should fully support the EU's efforts to end preventative mass medication. Only the worst forms of intensive farming will benefit from allowing this practice to continue."