The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics
The overuse of antibiotics in human and animal medicine is undermining modern medicine’s ability to cure life-threatening infections. Globally the incidence of dangerous, pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to the effects of antibiotics are increasing.
Ten million people a year could die from untreatable antibiotic-resistant infections by 2050, if we fail to take decisive action now.
Worldwide it is estimated that 73% of all antibiotics are used in animals, not people. Much of this use is routine, enabling livestock to be kept in unhygienic and stressful conditions where disease spreads easily.
In the UK, routine farm antibiotic use has been significantly reduced in recent years, by approximately 50%. But use remains far too high. Over 75% of farm antibiotics are used for mass medication in the UK, rather than for the treatment of individual sick animals.
The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics brings together health, medical, civil-society, farming, and animal-welfare groups and campaigns to stop the overuse of antibiotics in animal farming. It was founded in 2009 by Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain.
Our vision is a world in which human and animal health and wellbeing are protected by food and farming systems that do not rely on routine antibiotic use.
The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics supports:
- A One Health approach to dealing with antibiotic resistance which aims at achieving optimal health outcomes and recognises that human, animal and environmental health are all interconnected
- Improved husbandry methods that ensure animals are almost always healthy enough not to need antibiotics or other forms of routine medication
- Greater openness and transparency regarding how our meat, eggs and dairy are produced
Our 3 Campaign Aims
1. Better regulation and more responsible use of farm antibiotics.
This should include:
- A UK ban on all routine use of antibiotics and all preventative use of antibiotics in groups of animals.
- Most farm antibiotic use should be for individual sick animals. Group treatments should be exceptional and only permitted where there is a diagnosed disease outbreak and a high risk that the disease will spread in the group.
- Antibiotics designated as High-Priority Critically Important in human medicine (modern cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones) should be restricted to use in individual sick animals where sensitivity testing has shown other antibiotics are unlikely to work. Critically Important antibiotics should never be used preventatively and never for treating groups of animals.
- A complete ban on the use in livestock of the antibiotic colistin, which is used as a last-resort antibiotic in human medicine.
- Routine collection and publication of national data on antibiotic use by animal species and farming system, such as intensive, higher-welfare indoor systems, pasture fed, outdoor reared, free range and organic.
- Adoption of antibiotics policies by influential food-system players, such as public sector food procurement, supermarkets, food manufacturers and foodservice companies that do not permit irresponsible antibiotic use and promote good husbandry methods
2. One Health trade rules
Trade policies should prevent the UK from importing food that has been produced with irresponsible antibiotic use. The import of food produced with antibiotic growth promoters should be banned and the import of food produced with other forms of routine use, such as preventative group treatments, should be phased out.
3. New measures and regulations aimed at improving farm animal health and husbandry
Antibiotic-reduction strategies must ensure that farm animals are kept in less intensive conditions with, wherever possible, access to the outdoors. Measures aimed at improving husbandry standards must include reducing stocking densities, improving pig health at weaning and avoiding the use of breeds of animals that require higher levels of antibiotic use, should be included in such strategies.
Our recent activity
- Covid19 has had a huge impact on 2020, so in this recent blog post our Scientific advisor explores the links between pandemics and intensive farming
- Our latest report 'farm antibiotics and trade; could uk standards be undermined?' analyses the antibiotics policy and practice of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US. All countries with which the UK is holding talks on trade deals
- Meanwhile our recent report has revealed US farms are using up to five times as many antibiotics as UK farms, raising fears over potential US/UK trade deals
- A roundtable brought together experts on trade and farming to inform our position paper on trade and antibiotics to ensure antibiotics are high on the agenda in trade post-Brexit trade negotiations
- In our landmark report 'Swann song for routine antibiotic use, 50 years on?' we warn that the UK could have the weakest farm antibiotic regulation in Western Europe after Brexit, and call for new legislation to implement a complete ban on preventative mass medication
- Our research and reports are widely read and cited - see our publications
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