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December 2020

Welcome to our Winter newsletter

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2020 #WAAW2020 took place on the 18th to the 24th of November and provided the opportunity to raise global awareness of the dangers of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the need for responsible antibiotic use in both human and veterinary medicine. We released the latest Alliance report shortly afterwards. WAAW is a good opportunity for everyone working in the field of AMR to promote their messages, and a number of other relevant reports were published during the week. We’ve put together a round-up of the reports we think you’ll find most useful in our news from elsewhere section.

Looking ahead to the New Year, the Alliance will be holding a webinar on the 4th of March 2021. We welcome you to join us for the discussion. Please save the date in your diaries and watch this space for sign up and registration information.
Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season from all of the Alliance team!

Suzi Shingler,
Campaign Manager, Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics


Our latest report on farm antibiotics & trade deals

The Alliance’s recent focus has been on trade issues. Our new report, ‘Farm antibiotics and trade deals – could UK standards be undermined’ examines farm antibiotic use in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; four countries which are currently in trade negotiations with the UK. Based on the evidence found in this report, we call for the government to take a strong stance against the overuse of farm antibiotics in any trade negotiations.

Our analysis of antibiotics usage across these countries finds that total farm antibiotic use in both the US and Canada is about 5 times higher than in UK livestock, antibiotic use in Australian poultry is over 16 times higher than in UK poultry, and use in pigs is nearly three times higher than in UK pigs.

The report also finds that these four countries all permit feeding some antibiotics to livestock to make them grow faster, a practice which has been illegal across the EU since 2006. Most of the antibiotics used in this way are not currently used in human medicine, although several of them could be used in the future. One growth promoter used in the US, bacitracin, is already used in human medicine in the US. We also find that these countries all permit the use of hormone growth-promoting implants in cattle, and that a high-priority critically important antibiotic is frequently included in these implants to prevent infection at the implant site.

Follow the links below to read and listen to coverage of our report:

The report and our findings were also referred to by Baroness Rosie Boycott during a debate in the House of Lords on the Trade Bill. You can watch her 7th of December speech here.

We hope the widespread and on-going coverage, like this article in the Financial Times, will help keep antibiotics on the national agenda whilst we work to spark the action that is required.

Alliance News
UK farm antibiotics use rose 5% in 2019 New government data shows that in 2019 the sales of antibiotics for food-producing animals, adjusted for animal population, increased by 5% in the UK, compared with a year earlier, while sales of the most critically important antibiotics fell by 20%. Total farm antibiotic sales had previously fallen by about 50% between 2014 and 2018, partly through voluntary initiatives in the pig and poultry industries. Antibiotic use remains highest in the pig industry and the failure to reduce use in pigs in 2019 was partly due to an increase in swine dysentery, a severe bacterial infection which spreads when pigs ingest infected faecal matter. These results show that there is still a major need to improve animal health and welfare if further necessary reductions in antibiotic use are to be achieved.
Antibiotic sales in Europe
The latest European Medicine Agency report on the European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) features farm antibiotic sales data for 2018 from 31 European countries and shows a 3% reduction compared with a year earlier. For the 25 countries which have provided data since 2011, there has been a 34.6% reduction in sales between 2011 and 2018. In a heartening development, the veterinary sales of antibiotics considered critically important in human medicine also show a downward trend. However, large differences in overall use per livestock unit remain between different Member States. Figures show the UK has the fifth lowest antibiotics sales in Europe and uses 71% less than the EU average per livestock unit.

In case you missed it – news from elsewhere
  • New RUMA targets for UK livestock sectors 2021-2024 The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance - an industry alliance of farming, veterinary medicine and pharmaceutical-industry organisations - have set new targets for antibiotic use in British livestock. The targets, covering the period from 2021-2024, follow on from earlier targets set by RUMA for the 2017-2020 period. Most of these earlier targets have already been achieved or on track to be met by the end of December.
  • Sustainable Food Trust on the misuse of antibiotics in US livestock  A new report by the Sustainable Food Trust, Maximum Growth: Whatever the Cost, finds that US cattle, pig, chicken and turkey farms are routinely treated with four antibiotics that have been banned in the UK for all purposes and two others that have never been permitted here for growth promotion. They also use a further four antibiotics, in ways that would be illegal in the UK. The drugs are used at low levels in feed, for prolonged periods, to make animals grow faster and suppress disease in beef feedlots and other factory farms, sustaining the ideal conditions for the development of antibiotic resistance.
  • Food Foundation supermarket report Plating up Progress, a new Food Foundation report, maps the current commitments, targets and performance reporting of 11 major UK supermarkets, as well as 15 major UK-operating caterers, quick service and casual-dining restaurant chains. As part of this report the Food Foundation asked for public disclosure of antibiotic policies, banning the use of antibiotics for growth-promotion purposes, and restricting the use of medically important antibiotics. The report found that although supermarkets were ahead on number and ambition of targets, antibiotics policy and disclosure across all sectors was inconsistent but that progress was being made.
  • World Animal Protection (WAP) on factory farming A new WAP report, ‘Fuelling the Pandemic’, reveals the long-term threat of factory farming to the health of humans, animals and the planet. The report finds that antibiotics are used routinely to prop up low animal-welfare practices on factory farms. This misuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria which spread to workers, the environment and into the food chain. According to the report, each year 131,000 tons of antibiotics are used in livestock farming, over 50 billion animals are suffering on factory farms, and 75 per cent of all antibiotics used in the world are used in farming.
  • Financial Times (FT) Special Report The FT has produced a Special Report on the Future of Antibiotics examining the causes and effects of an increasing global resistance to antibiotics: from the pressures doctors are under to prescribe them even for viral infections, to what new treatments are currently in the pipeline, as well as what role can the consumer play in reducing antibiotic use in the food chain.
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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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