Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, speaking in the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee where he will be Rapporteur for a Report on the sector’s response to Antimicrobial Resistance, has said:
“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a massive public health issue. The threat of increasingly drug-resistant infections is real all over the world despite huge differences in consumption, prescription and use.
“The fact that so much of our agri-food is exported overseas means that the One Health approach incorporating human and animal health, as well as the environment, is so important.
“Official bodies need to work with farmers to address the challenges in this area.
“The Agricultural sector has already shown that it is willing to engage on this issue. In Ireland, antibiotics are only given out when prescribed by a registered vet practitioner who has a given responsibility for professional care of a given herd.
“The same, however, is not true for other European countries, where non-veterinary professionals can dispense antibiotics. The varying degrees of practices, as well as varying rules on when antibiotics can be used are contributing to the development of AMR.
“This issue is compounded by the fact that the EU continues to press ahead with free trade agreements with countries like Canada, where a cow can get antibiotics without any prescription at all, and Brazil where antibiotics are allowed to be used as growth promoters.
“In fact the use of antibiotics in Brazil is set to double from 2010 to 2030, yet the Commission continues to press ahead with Mercosur trade negotiations.
“The Report, for which I will be the AGRI rapporteur, will look at tackling AMR from a number of directions – Helping farmers access funds for quality housing, ventilation, cleaning, disinfection, vaccination, bio-security is extremely important if we are to be serious about alternative methods to prevent disease outbreaks in the first instance.
“There also needs to be a realisation that business practices in the pharmaceutical industry need to be addressed. For decades now these industries have built up a culture of sale that has incentivised over prescription and over use. This needs to stop.
“Working with colleagues in the Agriculture Committee I will be pressing for the need for time-frames and benchmarks to be set for implementing action.
“I will also be reaching out to farming groups to get their views on the One Health strategy. We will only resolve this issue if we work together and if there is a holistic approach to finding solutions”.