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May 2020

Welcome to our inaugural newsletter

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted once again why human health should not be viewed in isolation from the wider world and instead a One Health approach must be taken. The term One Health describes a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to public health which recognises that the health of people is closely related to the health of animals and our shared environment. Zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that can spread from animals to people, antibiotic resistance, food safety and environmental contamination are all recognised by scientists, governments and international agencies as key One Health issues.
Covid-19 should be viewed as a One Health issue too. This is because most scientists believe that Covid-19 is a zoonotic disease caused by a virus which has spread to people from wild animals, and some argue its emergence is likely linked to environmental degradation.
In a new blog, Cóilín Nunan of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics argues that the global expansion of intensive livestock farming, which relies on routine antibiotic use, is a major factor in environmental degradation and the emergence of new infectious diseases. This is why we need to rethink how we farm livestock to put protecting health and biodiversity at the centre of our farming systems.
UK farm antibiotic use has fallen by 50% in recent years, but even greater reductions in use are still needed. In line with a key Alliance campaign goal, the EU acted last year to ban the purely preventative use of antibiotics in groups of farm animals from 28 January 2022. We continue to campaign for the UK to follow suit but so far the Government has refused to commit to the ban. The Alliance recently received a letter from Defra stating that the Government plans to launch a consultation on the preventative use of antibiotics on UK farms. We will be engaging with this process closely and will keep you updated as we go. 

The Alliance maintains our call on the Government to not water down our hard-won antibiotics regulations in any trade deals as we continue the process to leave the EU. Read our trade position paper to find out more.

In our second report into Supermarket antibiotic policies we also hone in on the major buying power held by UK supermarkets, and call for a them to take action to ban routine prophylaxis within their supply chains. The report shows that progress continues to be made but some supermarkets are lagging behind.

This newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with us and you can subscribe to get our regular updates straight to your inbox. Subscribers will be kept up-to-date on all our latest findings and campaign news as we continue to push for stricter rules on antibiotic use on farms, and make sure antibiotics of last resort are ring-fenced for human health.

You can also follow us on twitter and we have recently updated our website, so do check out the new resources and content available. And remember to contact us if you want to know more, if you have news to share, or if you would like to become an Alliance member.

Suzi Shingler,
Campaign Manager, Alliance to Save our Antibiotics

Alliance News
Event postponed due to Covid-19
On the 24 March the Alliance was due to host an event in parliament, “Farm Antibiotics in Good Food Britain’ – which has of course been postponed. The event was designed to highlight what more we can do to protect public health from the rise in antimicrobial resistance. Covid-19 starkly shows how vulnerable the world is to transmissible disease. So, while we take all appropriate measures to stay safe, our work will continue as we endeavour to create positive change and ensure our antibiotics and health are protected.
'UK supermarkets move to cut antibiotic use in farming'   (Guardian article)
In January 2020 we assessed the publicly available antibiotics policies of 10 leading British supermarkets and published our latest supermarket report. We found that Aldi, Asda and Iceland were still allowing their suppliers to use antibiotics routinely, in animal feed and drinking water.  In contrast, Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose prohibit routine antibiotic use, whereas Morrisons has a ban for some species and not for others.
YouGov survey of public view on farm antibiotic use
We commissioned a UK-wide YouGov survey to test the public’s opinions on farm antibiotic use and animal husbandry. It found that a large majority of the British public support a ban on preventative group treatments with antibiotics and oppose intensive-farming practices. See the results in full.
Alliance position on trade
At the end of last year we looked in detail at what impact new trade rules may have on the UK’s ability to sustain its downward trend of farm antibiotic use. After an expert roundtable in September 2019 we published our position on trade calling for UK standards to be protected, and for a phase out of the importation of food produced with routine antibiotic use. Trade talks between the UK and US seem to be going ahead, so we must pay attention to the level of antibiotics used on US farms, if we are considering becoming a significant new market for US exports.
The Swann Report
In November 2019 the Alliance marked the 50th anniversary of the Landmark Swann report with the publication of our Swann Song report. The Swann report was a hugely influential report on how to end the overuse of antibiotics in farming, which the government commissioned after a outbreak of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella killed six people and was traced to intensively farmed calves. The questions the original Swann report grappled with are still relevant today. The Alliance asks the UK government to learn from past failures and regulate to ensure truly sustainable and responsible farm antibiotic use.
In case you missed it – news from elsewhere
  • A coalition of public and private sector organisations has launched an initiative to galvanise investors to tackle the issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in 2020. The ‘Investor Year of Action on AMR’ is backed by the UN-Supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), FAIRR, the Access to Medicine Foundation and the UK Department of Health and Social Care. Sign up to find out more.
  • A new publication, produced by WHO’s European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and published by Cambridge University Press, outlines the need for multisectoral approaches – involving disciplines such as human medicine, veterinary medicine, agricultural sciences, and economics – to address the global problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • An insightful blog from our friends at Sustain about how the Coronavirus crisis is affecting British farmers.
  • The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics is a member of the Antibiotic Resistance Coalition. They produce a very informative newsletter and useful resources, we would recommend signing up to their newsletter.
Submit your news
If you would like to feature in our next newsletter please get in touch with Suzi:
Make sure you’re following us on twitter
Contact us
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. 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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