The European Parliament recently adopted a resolution calling for a ban on most uses of antibiotics in livestock. Noting that “superbugs” take the lives of approximately 25,000 people in Europe each year, the non-binding resolution urges the European Commission (EC) to “make legislative proposals to phase out the prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock farming.”

The European Union already bans antibiotics to boost animal growth, but the resolution addresses the need to prevent disease by keeping veterinary and human medicines as separate as possible. Among other things, the resolution urges the EC to prevent “last resort” antibiotics from being used in animals and allow the drugs only to be administered under licensed conditions combined with resistance monitoring.

“The growing ineffectiveness of antibiotics is already a serious problem today and a potential health time bomb in the future,” said the Parliament’s Public Health Committee Chair Jo Leinen. “We need a clear EU and international strategy to prevent misuse in agriculture and medicine, as well as to encourage the development of new antibiotics.” See European Parliament Press Release, October 27, 2011.