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Debates
Wednesday, 24 October 2018 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Authorisation and supervision of medicinal products for human and veterinary use - Veterinary medicinal products - Manufacture, placing on the market and use of medicated feed (debate)
MPphoto
 

  John Stuart Agnew (EFDD). – Mr President, as well-intentioned as this legislation may be, it will be a complete own goal if it renders British livestock producers uncompetitive against meat products from third countries where these rules are not adhered to.

I have heard an EU official say: ‘Well we are going to ban substandard imports and we’re going to stand up to the WTO if it challenges us by insisting on reciprocal standards’. However, this is easier said than done, as it requires the Commission to undertake a formal human health risk assessment, which must follow a defined procedure. The Commission has not done this, with the potential consequence that large quantities of meat will arrive into the UK from farms that use antibiotics prophylactically, as a medicated feed. It is even possible that the antibiotics in this feed are of a type that the British livestock industry voluntarily does not use because of their extensive use for human patients.

I urge the Commission to delay implementing this legislation until either Brexit is safely achieved or they have squared it with the WTO. In any event, the legislation should use sound science when laying down prescriptive rules for medicated feed: for example, the threshold at which carryover in mills becomes a genuine issue.

British livestock vets are high-grade professionals who need flexibility in how they prescribe and use medicines. If this legislation becomes too restrictive, welfare problems may ensue, with culling as the only solution.

I hope that the future independent UK government will think outside the box as regards antimicrobial resistance, because big advances have been made in commercial genetics. Among our wild bird population we find genes that will tolerate a bacterial attack and shrug it off after a few days of lethargy. These genes could be transferred into our own poultry so that medicines are not required in the first place. I’m sure that Ms Molly Scott Cato won’t like that, but it is a genuine solution.

Above all else, we must educate our consumers into taking antimicrobial resistance seriously enough to insist to the supermarkets they do not expect to see substandard products on the shelves.

 
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