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July 2021

Welcome to our Summer newsletter


What a summer of highs and lows it’s been so far!
To start with the highs, I’m proud to present Pharming Animals a documentary short, courtesy of Lydia Handford at Ocean Drive Films, where I explain in plain English why some farms use so many antibiotics in their livestock and how this is fuelling antibiotic resistance in people.  It’s a really engaging and informative watch so please share it widely amongst your networks.

Pharming Animals documentary, with thanks to Lydia Handford at Ocean Drive Films.
June also saw our campaign focus aimed squarely at the G7 summit in Cornwall, building in the research and leg-work looking ahead to COP26 in Glasgow later this year where the whole AMR and food and farming community are looking for real change. The G7 nations have already unanimously pledged to take a One Health approach to tackling the growing pandemic of antimicrobial resistance. But the conclusions from the summit were light on specifics, so the Alliance pulled together a G7 factsheet that compared the nations’ progress on antibiotic policy and called on all G7 nations to:
• Ban the preventative group treatment of antibiotics in all farm animals 
• Ban on the use of growth promoters in all farm animals 
• Improve animal husbandry to ensure good farm-animal health and welfare
Looking ahead to COP26 we’ll be maintaining the pressure on the UK Government to bring in safer antibiotics policies that protect British farmers, growers and consumers from cheap imports and a regulatory race to the bottom. We wrote a letter to Liz Truss asking for her reassurance that irresponsible antibiotics use in agriculture is being taken seriously in all new trade deals the government is pursuing. We want confirmation that British farmers and suppliers will not be undercut by cheap imports from countries where antibiotic use far exceeds our own. Unfortunately the response we got from the Department for International Trade didn’t answer our questions. This is a serious concern for the Alliance as many of the UK farming sectors’ antibiotic reductions are voluntary and are vulnerable to market pressures from lower priced imports.
In more positive news, our work highlighting the Australian use of antibiotic growth promoters appears to have gained traction in Parliament, as several MPs mentioned this during the recent debate on the trade deal. Our recent Australia factsheet outlines the concerning difference in antibiotics policy and practice between Australia and the UK. We go into more detail on this in our farm antibiotics trade report that outlines the concerns we have over free trade deals with Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand. We will continue to expose the detail of these trade deals and will be fighting for tougher regulation in this area. In line with this our research into the antibiotics policies and practices in other countries the UK government is looking to negotiate free trade deals with, such as India, Mexico and Canada, will be published in the coming months.
Finally, our Scientific advisor Cóilín Nunan has been on the case to make sure the upcoming 22 January 2022 EU legislation on antibiotics has the correct criteria to determine the list of antibiotics that cannot be used in farming because they are too important in human medicine. The Alliance argues the criteria should take into account the possibility of avoiding the use of antibiotics, including antibiotics used as a last-resort in human medicine or those that are particularly important in human medicine, by improving farming practices and animal husbandry to minimise or avoid certain diseases. However, the devil is in the detail and Cóilín, alongside colleagues and organisations across Europe, is pushing hard for the right result. We will keep you posted on developments.

Suzi Shingler
Campaign Manager | Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics
Interview with the experts - Nikolai Pushkarev
In our latest interview we hear from Nikolai Pushkarev, Policy Coordinator on Food Systems & NCD Prevention at European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) who gave us his views on how the global AMR community have responded to Covid 19, what the links are between agricultural intensification and AMR and what needs to happen next. Follow the links for more information about the EPHA. To find out more about Nikolai’s work find him on twitter @agrifoodhealth. And if you would like to feature in one of our expert interviews please get in touch.
The Good Food Institute Joins the Alliance!
We’d like to extend a warm welcome to The Good Food Institute Europe that has recently joined the Alliance. The Good Food Institute Europe is an international NGO helping to build a more sustainable, secure and just food system by transforming meat production. They work with scientists, businesses and policymakers to advance plant-based and cultivated meat, eggs, dairy and seafood. To find out more about their work check out and find them on Twitter @GoodFoodInst.

In case you missed it – news from elsewhere
  • CRISPR-SeroSeq New research from the University of Georgia has shown that traditional methods for testing livestock for antibiotic resistance miss the presence of drug resistant strains of salmonella in one in ten cattle samples. However a new technique has been developed by UGA researchers that allows the analysis of all types of salmonella in a sample. The technology identifies molecular signatures in salmonella’s CRISPR regions and helps identify which strains of bacteria are most abundant.
  • EU Antibiotics Use and Resistance in Livestock and Humans A new Inter-Agency Report reveals a drop in the use of antibiotics in EU farming between 2016 and 2018, including a halving of colistin use. Antibiotic use per kg of biomass is higher in humans than in farm animals, but despite this over 61% of European antibiotics continue to be used in livestock, with 39% being used in humans. The findings that, for some human infections, antibiotic resistance is more closely linked to farm antibiotic use than human antibiotic use highlights the importance of the responsible use of antibiotics in farming and reiterate that infection control is crucial and regulations should be enforced.
  • Rise in use of some CIAs in UK Pig Farms  Since 2015, UK pig farms have doubled their use of macrolide antibiotics, which are classified as critically important in human medicine. by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, over the same time period, industry data shows that their use of high-priority critically important antibiotics has been reduced by nearly 70%. 
  • Fall in the overall number of AB used in UK Pig Farms Sticking with the pig industry with the news that overall UK antibiotics use in pigs fell by nearly 5 per cent in 2020. Although progress has slowed from the 60.5% reduction achieved between 2015 and 2018.
  • More Evidence of Resistance Transfer from Pigs to Humans  A new study finds evidence for the spread of multi-drug resistant S.aureus bacteria between pigs and humans. This was a known concern for MRSA but this new finding indicates a wider problem.
  • The OIE Annual Report on Antimicrobial Agents Intended for Use in Animals, Better Understanding of the Global Situation was recently  published. Figure 36 on page 63  of the OIE Report shows a comparison in antibiotics use for different geographic regions, which gives a timely contribution to the debate around new UK trade deals as it shows the UK is moving away from trading with the EU where antibiotics use is low and moving toward trading blocs like Asia and the Americas where use is higher.
  • Antibiotic Resistance in NHS England more than 90,000 hospital admissions in England were caused by antibiotic resistance in 2019/20 – an increase of nearly 4 per cent on the previous year. Professor Dame Sally Davies calls for more international co-operation to tackle the 'silent pandemic' of antibiotic resistance.
  • Can Sweeteners Encourage Antibiotic Resistance? New evidence says yes, and suggests that sweeteners added to food could promote antibiotic resistance.
  • Impact of Herbicides on Soil Microbiomes A study from the University of York biology department published earlier this year found that the application of three widely used herbicides (glyphosate, glufosinate and dicamba) increases the prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes and mobile genetic elements in soil microbiomes.
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please get in touch with Kat:
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Membership of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is free.
To join the Alliance head to our organisation sign-up page
The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is an alliance of health, medical, civil society and animal welfare groups campaigning to stop the overuse of antibiotics in animal farming. It was founded by Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain in 2009. The Alliance is is completely free to join. Our vision is a world in which human and animal health and well-being are protected by food and farming systems that do not rely on routine antibiotic use. 
@ASOAntibiotics @ASOAntibiotics
Copyright © 2020 | Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics| All rights reserved.
|April 2020 Newsletter|

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