Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Public health threat of antimicrobial resistance

Delivered in Plenary - 26th October 2011

Mr President

Antibiotic resistance is a very serious medical problem in Europe. People are dying from nosocomial infections and MRA and nothing can stop these killer bugs. In the past, useless over-prescribing by doctors (and I happen to be one of them) of antibiotics for viral infections was blamed, but in recent years the issue of massive doses being given in animal feeds as growth promoters was also blamed and investigated and the practice was eventually banned.

Now we need to look again at the routine use of antibiotic prophylaxis in animal husbandry. Sometimes it is used to mask poor animal welfare and hygiene, which is clearly unacceptable. However, it is logical that overuse of antibiotics by farmers and vets will eventually lead to microbial resistance in human pathogens. We therefore need more scientific research to settle this controversial issue, but in the meantime I urge farmers and vets to be very cautious.