EPRUMA disappointed at MEPs’ lack of regard for animal health and welfare, and rejection of science

Brussels, 13 July 2021: EPRUMA was disappointed to see members of the ENVI Committee vote this week to reject the scientific assessment of the EMA, EFSA and ECDC.

In a misguided bid to protect the use of antibiotics for human use and stem the tide of antimicrobial resistance development, a group of MEPs today approved a motion for a resolution objecting to a delegated regulation which outlines the criteria for the designation of antimicrobials that will be banned for use in animals.

With concerns based on outdated beliefs about misuse of antibiotics in the animal sector and a complete misinterpretation of WHO recommendations*, this move rejects EU scientific advice which could seriously jeopardise animal health and welfare alongside public health, food safety, and food security. It marks a clear statement of disrespect for the science-based decision-making process established in the EU and ignores repeated calls of its own Chamber to combat antimicrobial resistance using the One Health approach.

The motion voted today will only negatively impact animal health and welfare and will have no positive impact on public health or antimicrobial resistance.

EPRUMA reiterates these concerns before the motion is taken to plenary in September and recalls that when animals fall ill with life-threatening bacterial infections, they deserve and should be treated. There is no product yet available that may replace antibiotics in terms of capacity to treat bacterial diseases in any living being.

Arbitrarily allowing for the prohibition of the only therapeutic choice available means that animals will be left unprotected against bacterial infections, leading to the unnecessary suffering and perhaps even death of animals, including pets. This is in flagrant contradiction of the Lisbon Treaty which recognises animals as sentient beings as well as the importance accorded by citizens to animal welfare, as recently evidenced by the successful European Citizens’ Initiative “End the Cage Age”.

Massive efforts have been made by the animal sector over the last decade which has seen a reduction of sales of antibiotics and of resistance on the animal health side. EPRUMA remains committed to further promoting the responsible use of antibiotics, as part of the veterinarians’ toolbox, and to fighting antimicrobial resistance through a One Health approach that looks to the equal protection of human, animal and environmental health.

* The WHO acknowledges that animal health should be considered before applying controls, and recommends the list set out by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to be equally considered.