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The United Nations is increasing pressure on countries to step up their action in tackling antimicrobial resistance and reduce the use of antibiotics in farm animals. Three UN agencies- the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) issued new recommendations on the use of antibiotics in animals, together with a plea to end overuse and misuse in food systems, in conjunction with World Antibiotic Awareness Week (Nov 13-19).

The recommendations calls for an end to the routine use of antibiotics in healthy animals to promote growth (a practice that has been banned in the EU since 2006, but which makes up 80% of antibiotic use in farm animals in some countries) and to prevent disease; and calls for an overall reduction in the use of all classes of “medically important” antibiotics in food-producing animals.

These recommendations are by-and-large already fulfilled within the EU and implemented on Irish farms. However, the use of the blanket dry cow therapy remains an issue that may soon need to be addressed and Irish co-operatives are certainly leading the way, helping their members make the shift where possible to Selective Dry Cow Therapy.

Alison Graham

European Affairs Executive