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The UK is being urged to ban treating livestock with antibiotics as it begins post-Brexit trade talks. 

A report from the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics says the government’s ‘desire to set up new trading relationships’ with non-EU countries has ‘raised concerns that there may be negative consequences for UK food and farming standards’. 

It calls on the UK to follow in suit of the European Union who will ban all routine farm antibiotic use at the beginning of 2022. The report also criticizes the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – all of which have spoken to the UK to negotiate potential new trade agreements -over their ‘misuse’ of antibiotics. 

It found that total farm antibiotic use in both the US and Canada is around five times higher than in UK livestock, and that antibiotic use in US cattle is about seven times as high as use in UK cattle.

‘Hormone growth promoters’

Similarly, it says the four countries permit the use of ‘hormone growth promoters implants in cattle’ which is currently banned in the UK and EU.

Hormone implants often also contain an antibiotic as an active ingredient to prevent infection at the implant site. The most widely used antibiotic for this purpose is tylosin, an antibiotic classified by the WHO as a high-priority critically important antibiotic.

‘A clear misuse’

“The use of growth-promoting hormones in cattle farming has consequences for routine antibiotic use,” the report states.

“Hormone implants given to cattle also often contain an added antibiotic to prevent infection at the implant site. The antibiotic which is most widely used in this way is classified as a high-priority critically important in human medicine by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

“Using such an important antibiotic for purely production purposes is a clear misuse of antibiotics which should no longer be tolerated by regulators worldwide.”

You can read the full report here

Liam Giliver

Liam is the former Deputy Editor of Plant Based News. He has written for The Independent, Huffington Post, Attitude Magazine, and more. He is also the author of 'We're Worried About Him'.