Antibiotic use in Cyprus’ animal farming eight times recommend limit
Cypriot farmers use more than 400mg of antibiotics per kilo of livestock – eight times the recommended limit – compared to 200mg/kg in the US and just over 50mg/kg in the UK, the BBC reported on Tuesday.
A report by the UK Government-commissioned Review on Antimicrobial Resistance the use of antibiotics in farming must be reduced because it represents a critical threat to public health as superbugs may be passed on to humans through undercooked meat.
The BBC said that based on current rates, the global consumption of antibiotics is expected to increase by 67 per cent by 2030.
The economist who led the review, Jim O’Neill, said the figures were simply “staggering” and 10 million people would die each year from drug-resistant infections by 2050.
He said a reasonable target for agricultural antibiotic use would be 50mg for every 1kg of livestock – a level already achieved by one of the world’s biggest pork exporters, Denmark. “The UK uses just over 50mg/kg, the US uses nearly 200mg/kg, while Cyprus uses more than 400mg/kg,” said the report.
According to a European report in 2013, Cyprus topped the list of EU countries, using 408 mg antibiotics per kilo of meat, a little more than Italian (370 mg/kg), Spanish (249 mg/kg) and German farmers (211 mg/kg). Swedish farmers used the least at 13.6 milligrams of antibiotics per kilo of meat on average.
An official at the veterinary department of the agriculture ministry refused to comment on Tuesday when asked by the Cyprus Mail, saying he had not seen the latest reports. He also refused to outline the general situation or offer already-recorded levels of use in Cyprus by farmers.
The Press Association reported that consumption of antibiotics by animals is greater than that by humans in many countries around the world. The trend poses a risk that the so-called superbugs will develop and spread, whether through direct contact between humans and animals, consumption of undercooked meat, or from animal waste, the report said.
A phased reduction of antibiotics in agriculture is recommended in the latest proposal by the review, suggesting countries could have agreed limits on their use over the next 10 years.
The report, entitled Antimicrobials in agriculture and the environment: reducing unnecessary use and waste, also calls for strict standards around industrial pollution, ensuring as little manufacturing waste as possible is released into the environment.
O’Neill said: “I find it staggering that in many countries most of the consumption of antibiotics is in animals, rather than humans. This creates a big resistance risk for everyone, which was highlighted by the recent Chinese finding of resistance to colistin – an important last-resort antibiotic which has been used extensively in animals.
“As we’ve highlighted, most of the scientific research provides evidence to support curtailing antibiotic use in agriculture, it’s time for policy makers to act on this. We need to radically reduce global use of antibiotics and to do this we need world leaders to agree to an ambitious target to lower levels, along with restricting the use of antibiotics important to humans.”
The review is expected to present further proposals on how to deal with antimicrobial resistance early next year.
This year, the European Commission requested a joint scientific opinion from the European Medicines Agency and the European Food Safety Authority on measures to reduce the need to use antimicrobial agents in animal husbandry in the European Union, and the resulting impacts on food safety: