Antibiotics in farming

The Government has long promoted the responsible use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine. It has produced publications on the subject, including a Code of Practice on the Responsible Use of Medicines on the Farm, and works closely with stakeholders including the farming industry and the veterinary profession.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is being proactive about antimicrobial stewardship, paying special attention to categories of antibiotics considered of critical importance to human medicine.

It also supports a new cross-governmental strategy, issued in 2013, which outlines plans to slow the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance by focusing on three key objectives:

·         improving the knowledge and understanding of antimicrobial resistance;

·         conserving the effectiveness of existing treatments; and

·         stimulating the development of new antibiotics, diagnostics and novel therapies.

I am aware of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee's recommendation of further controls. Any such action must be based on evidence, be proportionate to risk and be aligned with other EU countries, but controls are expected to be strengthened as part of the future revision of the EU veterinary medicines legislation.

I have been assured that the Government will continue to emphasise to the veterinary and farming communities that routine preventative use of antibiotics is not acceptable. It will continue to lead the global fight against antibiotic resistance.