European ministers ban four antibiotics from animal feed

EUROPEAN AGRICULTURE ministers have banned four antibiotic drugs from animal feed after warnings that overuse by farmers is causing resistance to antibiotics in humans who eat pork and chicken.

Bowing to Swedish and Danish research indicating that the routine use of these drugs poses long-term health concerns, a majority of governments, including Britain, brushed aside lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry to back the ban.

Nick Brown, the Minister for Agriculture, said his support was based on concern for public safety. "The new Labour Government is determined to put the protection of the consumer at the forefront of decision making in this area. That means that on the basis of scientific evidence and the precautionary principle, the British Government supports the ban," Mr Brown said.

Other ministers said they had learned the lessons of BSE, E. coli and other serious food scares. "This is a triumph for the consumer," said Ireland's Minister for Agriculture and Food, Joe Walsh.

Because antibiotics are routinely incorporated into feedstuffs, there are widespread indications that they are being used not simply to treat illness but to fatten pigs and poultry. The drugs enhance digestion and prevent weight loss, thus saving farmers money.

Yesterday's decision applies to four drugs - Spiramycin, Tysolin phosphate, Virginiamycin and Zincbacitracin - although farmers will still be allowed to purchase them from pharmacies to treat illness on a restricted basis. Controls will be introduced at feed mills to ensure the ban on mixing them with feed is observed.

Pharmaceutical producers reacted angrily to the ban. Alpharma, a US-Norwegian company which manufactures Zinc bacitracin, said there was no scientific evidence of even a remote risk of resistance build-up in humans. The drug was notused by humans so the question of build-up was irrelevant, a spokesman said.

Zincbacitracin helped farmers to reduce costs because treated animals could eat less for the same results, he said.

The ban will be reviewed in two years to take account of any new scientific evidence.

Four other animal feed drugs will remain on the market but EU scientists are considering whether to extend the the ban to them.

Spain, Portugal and Belgium abstained in yesterday's vote, arguing that the evidence of a link between farm use of antibiotics and human resistance was not convincing.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones