Today is officially ‘European Antibiotics Awareness Day’, and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has spoken out to remind farmers of proper usage.
Creed says that antibiotics are ‘an important resource for the agriculture industry but must be used wisely if they are to remain effective’.
In today’s world, there is much discussion about the frequency that antibiotics are used, and the possible detrimental effect this is having on animal and human health.
Minister Creed explained that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is threatening the future of antibiotics. AMR occurs when microbes that could previously be killed by antibiotics are no longer susceptible. They have developed resistance, which means that many common bacterial infections are now becoming increasingly difficult to treat.
“Antimicrobial resistance is being increasingly recognised as one of the world’s biggest problems in terms of human health. A recent UK study suggests that AMR will be the leading cause of death in humans by 2050, making it a greater threat than cancer” stated Minister Creed.
He went on to explain that this issue is relevant to the agriculture sector because, if AMR is to be tackled effectively, there must be collaboration across the human, veterinary and environmental sectors:
“AMR is a global problem that is not contained by borders or within any one sector. All of the major international plans for dealing with AMR support a “One Health” approach urging collaboration across the human, veterinary and environmental sectors.
“Therefore, we must all play our part. Insofar as the agriculture sector is concerned, all of us, including government, the pharmaceutical industry, the veterinary profession, and farmers have a role to play. Behavioural change is never easy, nor is it a short-term project but there must be a combined effort if we are to realistically tackle the problem,” added Creed.
In this context, Minister Creed said that his Department continues to work with all the relevant stakeholders in the agricultural sector, and with the Department of Health and other health colleagues, through the mechanism of the Interdepartmental AMR Consultative Committee which was established jointly by the Ministers for Health and Agriculture in 2014.
Minister Creed believes “that antibiotics are a necessity for the agriculture sector in order to prevent and control disease and ensure that healthy animals enter the food chain. Therefore, we must all in the agri-food industry play our part in conserving this resource by using antibiotics prudently; by this I mean as little as possible and as much as necessary.”
Minister Creed asked farmers to remember the 4 r’s - right animal, right drug, right dose, right duration: