The goal of the resolution is to reduce the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine.
The EU Directive 2019/6 is going to regulate which pharmaceuticals animals will be allowed to receive in the future. However, the Green Party has submitted a resolution in the European Parliament which demands the introduction of a ban of drugs of last resort (DoLR) in factory farming.
The President of Luxembourg's veterinarians, Jean Schoos, argues that this is not in the spirit of animal welfare. On the other hand, MEP Tilly Metz from the Green Party states that there are a lot of misunderstandings about the subject.
In essence, the resolution in question demands a ban on the use of so-called "drugs of last resort" (DoLR) for animals. Instead, this particularly strong type of antibiotics are to be used exclusively for the treatment of humans, according to the resolution. The reason given by the resolution's authors is that the large-scale use of these types of pharmaceuticals, namely in the context of factory farming, lead to pathogens becoming increasingly resistant against the drugs.
MEP Tilly Metz explains that the goal of the resolution is to put an end to prophylactical use of DoLR in factory farming. Metz points out that organic farming is already proving that a reduced use of antibiotics works. However, the Green Party's resolution does not aim at pets or individual treatment of animals by veterinarians, the MEP stresses. In the case of illness, and if other types of antibiotics are not an option, the use of DoLR should continue to be allowed in the future, she states.
But veterinarians are still sounding the alarm regarding the Green Party's resolution. They argue that, in its current form, the resolution would essentially prevent them from treating certain illnesses among animals. The reason for this is that the EU regulation on animal pharmaceuticals does not distinguish between pets and farm animals. Chances for a last-minute amendment of the regulation also appear slim. This would mean that a ban of the drug would apply to all animals. And even if exceptions would be introduced for individual treatments, the veterinarians argue that pharmaceutical companies would simply stop producing the drug due to a lack of profit. In addition, they point out that DoLR used in human medicine are not formulated to be used on animals.
Statistics show that 66% of all antibiotics are used on farm animals – 90% of which are in the context of factory farming. Metz stresses that economic interests must not be prioritised over human health and animal welfare. Schoos counters that 95% of bacterial resistance originates from humans, compared to only 5% from animals. In his opinion, antibiotics should not be used as a basis for agricultural policy or eventually as a means to go against factory farming. This problem should be tackled in a different way, according to Schoos.
The Directive 2019/6 is expected to come into force in January 2022. It remains to be seen whether the Green Party's resolution will be included.RAni