A paper challenging global business leaders to recognise the complexity of the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) challenge in humans and animals and role of agriculture has been circulated at the G20 summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang in China.
The paper, submitted by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, is asking the G20 to work with regulators and vets to develop bespoke solutions for farmers in each country to encourage them to reduce, refine and replace their use of antibiotics.
Last week the European Federation of Animal Science conference in Belfast heard growing resistance of antimicrobials could cost the world as much as £76 trillion a year by 2050 unless efforts are made to tackle the issue.
RUMA chair Gwyn Jones said: “Resistance is a naturally-occurring phenomenon that develops as bacteria defend themselves against attack, so any antibiotic use can lead to resistance.
“With AMR very much on the G20’s agenda, it’s very important that global political and business leaders understand this and other complexities around AMR in terms of the causes, the role of antibiotics in humans and animals, and the challenges of tackling resistance sustainably and effectively.”
He said antibiotics were used to treat or prevent disease in farmed livestock, but were still used for growth production in some countries outside Europe: “They remain a vital veterinary tool to protect animal health and welfare and help us to continue to produce safe, quality food,” said Mr Jones.
He added that responsible use also meant using antibiotics ‘as little as possible and as much as necessary’.