Elliott welcomes reduction in antibiotic sales within UK agricultural sector

Ulster Unionist spokesperson on Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Tom Elliott has welcomed the news that, within the UK agricultural sector, there has been a 50 per cent reduction in the amount of active antibiotic ingredient sold between 2014 and 2020 (446 tonnes in 2014, 269 tonnes in 2020).

By Joanne Knox
Sunday, 26th June 2022, 12:37 pm

Mr Elliott asked the Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots, to outline what steps his department is taking to reduce the use of antibiotics in farming and to outline any decline in usage, in the last three years.

Upon receiving a response from the minister, Mr Elliott commented: “There is an emergence and spread of drug-resistant organisms, which is largely due to the over-use and inappropriate use of antibiotics in both humans and animals.

“Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the most serious threats to health across the world.

UUP agriculture spokesperson, Tom Elliott MLA

“New infection strains emerge that cannot be killed by particular antibiotics.

“The NI five-year action plan on tackling antimicrobial resistance in Northern Ireland entitled ‘Changing the Culture 2019-2024: One Health’ states that, if we cannot develop new drugs that can treat the infections caused by resistant organisms, by the year 2050 we can expect about 10 million deaths per year, worldwide, from drug-resistant infections.”

DAERA’s specific actions within the plan include: reducing the need for antimicrobials by lowering the burden of animal infection through implementation of strategies to reduce endemic disease (e.g. Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication scheme) and the promotion of good farm biosecurity practices; optimising the use of antimicrobials in animals and agriculture, for example, through the provision of ‘Responsible Use of Antimicrobials’ training to over 11,000 farm business members; investing in innovation through the funding of a series of projects including the ‘Strategic Action on Antimicrobial Usage’ (STATUS) and Whole Genome Sequencing projects, the findings from which will be used to inform future formulation of policy and action on AMR.

Mr Elliot added: “One of the main drivers of the emergence and spread of drug-resistant organisms is the over-use and inappropriate use of antibiotics in both humans and animals.

“While I don’t have specific figures for the NI agricultural sector it is welcome news that there has been a 50 per cent reduction in antibiotic ingredient sales in the UK over a recent six year period.

“This is an area where all livestock farmers and veterinary practitioners can assist, which also help to save financial outlay for such products in the process,” he concluded.