Farm antibiotics use and new trade deals


Tony McDougal, Poultry World

Jun 9, 2021    


Concerns about excessive use of antibiotics in the Australian poultry and livestock sectors has prompted an alliance of medical, environmental and animal welfare organisation to write to the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, asking if the issue is being taken seriously in new trade deals.


The letter, delivered by the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics to Liz Truss, stresses its fears at the prospect of a trade deal with Australia that does not account for farm antibiotic standards. It says allowing the importation of meat and dairy produced with routine antibiotic use would set a very poor precedent for future trade deals, farming standards and global antibiotics stewardship.


UK farmers have responded to the global public-health threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), reducing their antibiotic use by around 50% since 2014. The UK Government has also pushed a One Health agenda at a global level, resulting in the 2016 Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Antimicrobial Resistance and the establishment by the UN, WHO, FAO, and the OIE of the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance.


The Alliance says Australian farm antibiotic standards are significantly lower than the UK’s, claiming Australia has poor surveillance of its antibiotic use and has published no usage data for any year since 2010.


“Australian poultry farmers used 16 times more antibiotics per animal than British poultry farmers currently use and the Australian pig industry used 3 times more antibiotics per animal….