New reports from the Department of Agriculture say that farmers have begun using antibiotics less on their farms, as reported by farminguk.com.
These reports say that the sales of antibiotics to UK farmers have dropped to their lowest level since records began. They have dropped by 27% over the past three years. The figures recorded exceeded the government target, two years early, set out to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance.
The report from Defra, published today Friday 27th October, show that sales of medicines for use in food-producing animals had dropped from 62mg per kg to 45mg per kg in 2017. This exceeds the target of 50mg per kg set out by the government as part of the O’Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance.
Antibiotic resistance is a major threat to food-producing animals and humans, with health reports alleging they could result in over 10m deaths per year by the year 2050. This is estimated to cost over 100 trillion dollars to the world’s economy.
The news comes four years after the Government set up a plan to reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance in both animals and humans. They have, as part of the strategy, provided advice to the farming world and vets, by encouraging them to use antibiotics responsibly.
The Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, Lord Gardiner, has welcomed the results of the report and praised the UK for being the leader in tackling antibiotic resistance. He also commended farmers for their work in reducing antibiotic use.
"The fact we have overtaken our target two years ahead of schedule demonstrates our commitment to preventing the inappropriate use of antibiotics and shows our approach is working...Our farmers and vets must be commended for setting an excellent example for others around the world to follow, upholding the UK’s position at the forefront of international efforts to keep antibiotics available for future generations.”, he said.
"Now we must continue making progress and set our sights on reducing use even further. Ambitious specific reduction targets in different sectors will be yet another positive step towards safeguarding antibiotics.", he added.
"These results are immensely positive to see and show the combined efforts of vets and farmers to reduce antibiotic use are paying off. Vets are taking accountability for their prescribing decisions and farmers are investing in disease prevention.”, said the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens.
He called for solidarity across all agricultural themed professions and says antibiotic resistance is a problem in need of global commitment.
"We need solidarity across the profession; no veterinary professional must offer an easy route to access antibiotics where they are not justified….Tackling antibiotic resistance requires a commitment across all areas of animal health, together with work on human use by colleagues in the medical professions, and our work together to tackle the issue at global level.", said Gibbens.
Prof Davies, UK’s Chief Medical Officer, said. "This is a commendable achievement from our agricultural and veterinary sector to reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics. It shows the entire world what can be done when we join forces and work with focus and passion.
"But we cannot rest on our laurels. This progress demonstrates the commitment is there, but we need to build on this momentum and continue to do more, in every sector, and in every country, to stay ahead of superbugs.", she added.