Nicholson welcomes the launch of electronic database

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Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has welcomed the recent launch of an electronic database to monitor antibiotic use in pigs in Northern Ireland, saying that the work of the agricultural industry to promote the responsible use of antibiotics must be fully recognised and supported.

Commenting Mr Nicholson said: “I welcome the news that stakeholders in the local pig industry have jointly developed the eMB-Pigs book database to monitor the usage of antibiotics in pigs.

“This important initiative builds on work being carried out proactively throughout agriculture, work that is helping to address concerns regarding the decreasing effectiveness of antibiotics and rise of drug-resistant infections - what is termed antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In terms of human health there is a concern that many common diseases could become untreatable with antibiotics because of the growing resistance of bacteria to existing drugs. This is partly due to the over prescription of antibiotics to patients.

“The UK Government has been a global leader when it comes to addressing this complex issue, with both the human and animal health sectors working together as part of the so-called ‘One Health’ concept.

“In 2014 the then Prime Minister David Cameron commissioned economist Lord O’Neill to analyse the problem of AMR. The final O’Neill report, published in May, set out a number of recommendations including; increasing global awareness of AMR, improving surveillance and stimulating greater innovation and research to develop new drugs. At recent meetings of the G20 group of countries and the UN general assembly, world leaders agreed to pool resources and cooperate further to tackle the rise of drug-resistant infections.”

Mr Nicholson added: “The UK’s farmers, veterinary profession, researchers and other businesses within the agri-food supply chain have been carrying out important work to help minimise antibiotic resistance and promote the responsible use of antibiotics. The eMB-Pigs book is the latest in a series of initiatives, for example significant steps forward have been witnessed in the poultry sector in recent years and research and work continues in all sectors.”