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Unanimous European Parliament support for Carthy report on Antimicrobial Resistance

24 April, 2018 - by Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, has secured the unanimous support by the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Develolment committee for a report he authored on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).  The report was adopted by committee by 40 votes in favour with no votes against or abstentions.  Such endorsement by committee is almost unheard of.  

Welcoming the adoption of the report into how the agricultural sector can help in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, Carthy said:

“Despite huge differences in consumption, prescription and use of antibiotics worldwide, the threat of increasingly drug-resistant infections worldwide continues to rise. Antimicrobial resistance is a massive global health issue and only a targeted and coordinated approach can help to tackle it. 

“There has only been one new antibiotic discovery in the last 30 years, and in February of last year, the WHO reported that within a generation, without new antibiotics, deaths from drug-resistant infection could reach 10 million a year.

“I am delighted that MEPs from across the political spectrum have now endorsed my Report outlining how the agricultural sector can contribute to this fight. 

“The text voted through today takes a pragmatic approach to the problem.  Farmers need to be able to use antibiotics.  From an animal welfare perspective, if an animal gets sick, farmers must be able to administer medicine in order to cure the animal.  However, we also need to look into ways that cut down on the instances that farmers have to resort to antibiotics and prevent diseases in the first place. 

“I have called for increased funding for on-farm investments in areas such as housing, ventilation, cleaning, disinfection, vaccination and bio-security.  My report also calls for research into more alternatives to antibiotics as well as ways to strengthen natural defences from an early stage and at critical farming phases. 

“National Governments will now have to adopt Action Plans outlining how they plan on addressing this issue and today we have called on them to use targets and benchmarks when setting these actions. 

“It is encouraging that other MEPs have also joined me today in calling for a change in the business culture employed by big pharmaceuticals when it comes to antibiotics.

"It is important that veterinary practitioners do not receive incentives to prescribe or promote certain medicine and that this process remains independent of efforts by big-pharma to boost their profits. 

“Finally, the efforts made by European farmers to reduce AMR must be reflected elsewhere.  It is unrealistic and unfair to ask Irish farmers to change their practices if competitors elsewhere in the world are subject to different rules and expectations.  Mercosur trade negotiations are just one example of where Irish farmers are being directly threatened by cheaper produce. 

"The report we have adopted calls for a ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in food producing animals in all produce imported from third countries.  This practice has been banned in the EU since 2006 and we really need to ensure a level-playing field. 

“The agricultural sector alone cannot solve this problem.  And I look forward to working with colleagues on the Environment and Public Health Committee to adopt a comprehensive approach to this problem”.

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