Letter to The Times in response to article on 8 November

To the editor: Contrary to the impression given in the headline “Farmers reject WHO plea…” (8 November), we absolutely support global efforts to curb antibiotics.  UK food and farming has achieved rapid and significant reductions in use of antibiotics to treat and prevent animal disease – in fact a 27% fall in two years. Those of the highest priority to human health now form less than 1% of total use and are subject to clear restrictions by veterinary organisations.

What we cannot endorse are outright bans. The WHO guidelines themselves accept that in the interests of animal welfare, veterinary medicine should retain access to highest priority antibiotics in cases of last resort. And while we do not support routine preventative use of antibiotics, preventative use may occasionally be required – as in humans – before disease is diagnosed, for example after a very difficult birth.

Gwyn Jones, Chair, Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance