Antibiotics use: Minimization does not lead t...
Antibiotics use

Minimization does not lead to zero

Imago / Marius Schwarz
Young turkeys in a fattening pen.
Young turkeys in a fattening pen.

GERMANY, Berlin. The German Farmers' Association (DBV) is speaking out against exaggerated expectations regarding the reduction of antibiotic use in animal husbandry.

Antibiotic minimization as part of the One Health approach is not about reducing use to zero, the DBV said in its statement on the key points for a national antibiotic minimization concept presented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. This is "neither helpful nor justifiable" in terms of animal welfare and the necessary containment of an infection. The farmers' association welcomes the fact that the agricultural department continues to rely on the collection of the nationwide indicators 1 and 2. A planned additional indicator 3 would only make sense in the case of a change in strategy, if the antibiotic minimization is concentrated on the farms above this indicator. Otherwise, the new indicator 3 would lead to a further unnecessary documentation obligation.

According to the DBV, the continued involvement of QS Qualität und Sicherheit GmbH, which has acted as an interface between livestock farmers, veterinarians and the state antibiotics database, should be maintained. According to the key points paper, "monitoring" is to be introduced as a new element in addition to the benchmark system introduced with the 16th AMG amendment. The central element is the semi-annual collection of data on every treatment of cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys with antimicrobial drugs, regardless of their use or the size of the flock. In the future, the obligation to report this data should rest with the veterinarian.

Overall positive

Despite a number of demands for improvements, the Farmers' Association considers the key points paper to be positive overall. It certifies that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has taken into account the findings of the evaluation within the framework of the 16th amendment to the German Medicines Act (AMG). At the same time, the DBV calls for improvements. These include the weighting of certain active ingredients that are of particular importance for human medicine in the calculation of the operational therapy frequency. The planned multiplication of the treatment days of these critical active substances by a factor of 5 would lead to a significant increase in the individual therapy frequency for the livestock farms, without them being able to influence the selection of the active substances administered. In any case, the use of these antibiotics is strictly regulated.

In contrast, the German Environmental Aid (DUH), Germanwatch and the initiative "Doctors Against Factory Farming" expressed criticism of the incomplete documentation requirement. In their opinion, the key issues paper contains "old mistakes in a new guise". In particular, it lacks concrete reduction targets for the use of antibiotics and a ban on the particularly important reserve antibiotics. Instead, he said, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture is relying on familiar measures from the old federal government. "As long as veterinarians and farmers only have to state how often they administer antibiotics, but not in what dose, the use of antibiotics will not be further reduced," warned DUH agricultural expert Reinhild Benning. The proposed measures were based on a patchy documentation requirement that had already failed in 2020. In Germany, twice as many antibiotics are used per kilogram of animal weight as in Denmark. All antibiotic use would have to be recorded in dose and excessive use penalized. "Anyone who uses more than 50 mg of antibiotics per kilogram of animal weight should have to keep their animals healthier or significantly reduce their animal numbers," Benning said.

Source: fleischwirtschaft.de; AgE

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