World Health Organization wants farmers to reduce use of antibiotics in food production

WHO wants farmers to reduce use of antibiotics in food production

WHO calls for restrictions on use of antibiotics in food animal production

In its press release, WHO quotes a recent study published in the The Lancet Planetary Health which shows that interventions that restrict antibiotic use in food-producing animals reduced antibiotic-resistant bacteria in these animals by up to 39%. If common antibiotics continue to lose their efficacy, operations like hip replacements could become unfeasible because of the infection risk. The global health body released new Guidelines on Use of Medically Important Antimicrobials in Food-Producing Animals, stating that "If no action is taken today, by 2050, nearly all current antibiotics will be ineffective in preventing and treating human disease, and the costs of losing these drugs will exceed US$ 100 trillion in terms of national productivity".

Today, America's pig farmers closely work with a veterinarian to comply with an FDA directive that prohibits the use of antibiotics important to human medicine for promoting animal growth, requiring feed and water use of those same antibiotics to be under veterinary prescription.

Instead, they suggest, healthy animals should only receive antibiotics to prevent a disease if it has been diagnosed in other animals within the same group.

"A lack of effective antibiotics is a threat to the health security just as serious as a sudden outbreak of a deadly disease", said the director-general of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "The new guidelines illustrate the degree to which our regulators and large food animal producers are falling short".

Marc Sprenger, a scientist at World Health Organization, says that the "over-use and misuse of antimicrobials" has been happening both in humans and in farm animals.

In some countries, according to the organisation, approximately 80% of total consumption of "medically important" antibiotics is in the animal sector, mainly used for growth promotion in healthy animals - though this use has been banned in the European Union since 2006.

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And it said it "strongly recommends an overall reduction in the use of all classes of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals".

The "highest priority" antibiotics are often the last line, or one of limited treatments, available to treat serious bacterial infections in humans, according to the WHO.

The recommendations are part of new guidelines from the World Health Organization on what constitutes inappropriate use of antibiotics in the food chain, with the aim of tackling one of the main causes of antimicrobial resistance.

While several chicken producers and purveyors have committed to reducing antibiotic use in the American poultry supply, the NRDC criticizes the beef and pork industries for not being as reactive to the problem.

The organisation says that antibiotics should not be used to prevent animals getting sick and has demanded global standards to tackle superbugs.

While WHO can not enforce the guidelines it laid out, global leaders meeting at the United Nations last September signed on to a political declaration to fight the growing spread of antibiotic resistance.

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