This is an important topic to raise. Overuse is one of the biggest threats to modern medicine and we must act now to help keep antibiotics effective for future generations. I am aware that the Government has long promoted the responsible use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine, working closely with the farming industry and the veterinary profession and in January of last year a further 5-year action plan was launched, as well as a 20-year vision, for how the UK will contribute to containing and controlling antimicrobial resistance by 2040.
It is a positive step to see that UK sales in antibiotics for food producing animals was reduced by 53 per cent between 2014 and 2018 and this reduction is a testament to the improvements industry and the veterinary profession have made in antibiotic stewardship, training and disease control. This is a great example of how real change can be achieved when Government and industry work together and we should commend our farmers and vets for setting an excellent example for others around the world to follow.
A further target has been set to reduce UK antibiotic use in food-producing animals by 25 per cent between 2016 and 2020 through implementation of agreed industry targets, with new objectives for each animal sector being set by 2021. I believe long term sector-specific reduction targets, focused on the principle that “prevention is better than cure”, are important in helping to bring sustainable change across the agricultural industry.