`Ban anti-biotics in all farming'

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The Independent Online
NON-MEDICAL use of antibiotics should be banned and vets should receive less income from selling drugs to farmers, says the Soil Association in a new report today.

In an attack on the growing use of the drugs in agriculture, it points out that many cattle are fed antibiotics throughout their lives, and that use of tetracycline and penicillin, two of the best known ones, has increased by 1,500 per cent and 600 per cent in the past 30 years, even though it was supposed to fall.

"Pigs, poultry and even cattle are getting antibiotics on a daily basis, both to make them grow faster and in an attempt to control the diseases caused by intensive livestock production," said Richard Young, the association's policy co-ordinator. "Total use in farming is actually higher than in human medicine." Of the 1,225 tonnes of antibiotics used annually in the UK, only 40 per cent goes to humans. About a third goes to farm animals and a quarter on pets and horses.

The result, says the report, is that "the use of antibiotics on farms is contributing to the problem of antibiotic resistance."

If bacteria acquire resistance to antibiotics then they would be useless to combat diseases in humans.

Use and Misuse of antibiotics in UK agriculture, Soil Association, Bristol House, 40-56 Victoria St, Bristol BS1 6BY