World Health Organization calls for restrictions on use of antibiotics in food animal production

The World Health Organisation has released a new warning against the excessive use of antibiotics and medically approved anti-microbials in farm animals that supply food.

The WHO cites the country Namibia as a good example of how sustainable alternatives to antibiotics can still promote growth in animals, and keep them healthy, while still allowing food producers to make a profit.

The guidelines also provide two best practices for the industry moving forward: any new antimicrobials or antimicrobial combinations developed for use in humans must be considered critically important for human medicine, and, medically important antimicrobials not now used in food production should not be directed to this use in the future. The European Union barred the practice in 2006, and a USA ban on use of "medically important" antibiotics kicked in at the beginning of this year.

The over-medication of animals and humans further raises the existing threat of antibiotic resistance, which has advanced to a stage where there are no more medications to treat some types of bacteria.

"A lack of effective antibiotics is as serious a security threat as a sudden and deadly disease outbreak", said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of World Health Organization, in a press release on Tuesday.

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

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Prevent use of critically important antibiotics in food animals for disease control and use of highest priority critically important antibiotics in food animals for disease treatment. The overall objective is to encourage prudent use to slow down antimicrobial resistance and preserve the effectiveness of the most critical antibiotics for medicine.

In its announcement, World Health Organization reinforced that "scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that overuse of antibiotics in animals can contribute to the emergence of antibiotic resistance". The guidelines, issued November 7, incorporate this objective into its recommendations for antibiotic use in agriculture. Asian riseIn some countries, around 80 per cent of total consumption of medically important antibiotics is in the animal sector According to the Scientific American, the United States has moved toward reducing antibiotic use in agriculture, but China and other Asian countries have started using more.

Restricting antibiotic use in livestock and on fish farms led to a clear reduction in antibiotic-resistant bacteria in those animals, the review showed.

In contrast, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to consider routine administration of antibiotics for disease prevention to be a "judicious use" of the drugs, despite conclusive evidence nationally and internationally that the administering routine, non-therapeutic antibiotics to food animals is contributing to a public health crisis.

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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