Joint Statement for clear and strict rules to protect human health and animal welfare
On May 16, the Biodynamic Federation Demeter International joined forces with 19 other organizations working on animal welfare, human health, and the environment to express our severe concerns about the draft list of antimicrobials to be reserved for human health proposed by the European Commission. The joint statement calls on the European Commission to amend the current proposal to make this list a meaningful tool for preserving the efficacy of key antimicrobials and ultimately tackling AMR.
AMR is an increasingly worrying threat to human health
Already, 700 000 people die every year due to AMR. Since 73% of global sales of antimicrobials are applied in livestock, their usage in the agricultural sector needs to be strictly regulated. The continued practice in large-scale industrial agriculture of over- and misusing last-resort antibiotics, originally meant to prevent and treat life-threatening human infections, needs to be put to a stop by policymakers. This is why a comprehensive and strict list of antibiotics reserved only for treatments in human medicine is so crucial. However the list proposed by the European Commission has grave shortcomings and would be insufficient to address the issue of AMR and its connection to livestock systems.
What is in the proposal and why it is not enough
The European Commission based its draft list on the European Medicines Agency (EMA)’s recommendation dating back to February 2022. The EMA’s advice has been heavily criticised by civil society organisations as well as by Members of the European Parliament themselves. The EMA-proposed list will not only undermine the Commission’s goal to reduce the application of veterinary antibiotics to the absolute minimum, but it might even lead to counter-productive effects. First, the proposal allows pharmaceutical companies to approve new antibiotics for veterinarians. Second, the list only reserves antibiotics for human medicine that are not allowed for the veterinary application in the EU anyway. Thus, the list needs to be extended to include more antibiotics, such as ‘Colistin’ which is often used to counter the negative effects of early pig weaning.
Clear and unified response from civil society
As a response, 19 civil society organizations from the animal welfare, human health, and environmental sector unified to send a clear signal to the European Commission that the current list is inadequate to address AMR in a meaningful way. Together with the Federation, Compassion in World Farming EU, Animal Welfare Foundation, ProVeg International, and PROVIEH joined the statement as representatives of the sustainable agriculture sector.
Feedback submitted to the EU Public consultation
Furthermore, the Federation made its voice heard by submitting feedback to the EU consultation on the proposed list, which was open to the public until May 17. In its feedback, the Federation emphasized again the main criticisms against the EMA-proposed list, as well as the need to adopt a more holistic strategy. Rather than relying on veterinary medicine as the first resort, politics needs to promote animal health and welfare-oriented livestock systems that reduce the need for antibiotics in the first place.
To access the submitted feedback to the consultation, please click here.
If you would like to find out more about AMR and how it is connected to livestock systems, feel free to browse through our briefing paper.
Contact: Clara Behr, Head of Policy and Public Relations