Public health officials have long warned of the dangers of the over-use of antibiotics in humans. The same applies to animals, and since the increase this overuse produces in antimicrobial resistance, known as AMR, is identical in humans and animals, a resolution drafted by Agriculture Committee Chair Paolo de Castro calls for better research and analysis of the impact and more prudent use of antimicrobials in animals.
Today almost half of the antibiotics in Europe are prescribed for animals. So, it is no surprise that the overuse of antimicrobials is considered a factor in the increasing problem of resistance to antibiotics, which now poses a serious threat to the European livestock sector. Antibiotics are not only used to treat animals, but also for disease prevention and growth promotion.
The issue was on the Agriculture Committee's agenda Tuesday. In order to avoid a future without effective microbial treatment and to "maintain antibiotics as an effective tool to combat disease, for both animals and humans", the resolution says, the first step is to reduce their use.
Food chain vector in transmission of AMR
Animal resistance to AMR raises concerns at a public health level. It affects both humans and animals and can pass from humans to animals and from animals to humans.
The food chain is emerging as an important vector for transmitting AMR as antibiotic residue in meat can increase a consumer's resistance to antibiotics, according to the resolution.
Also worrying, AMR can be spread by non-food animals like cats and dogs.
The resolution calls for:
proper data collection and analysis of sales and use of antibiotics in animals
research into antimicrobial-free animal production, for example vaccination, bio security, breeding for resistance
regular systematic surveillance and monitoring of AMR in food producing animals and pets
more prudent use of antimicrobials in animals allied with better training and information for vet and farmers on how to minimise the development of AMR