Category Archives: AMR

so far in the 2021-22 Parliamentary Session…

Our latest Veterinary Policy Research Foundation Newsletter is out! Here we share some updates and highlights from the last few months.

Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill

After Scotland passed a similar Bill in July 2020, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act became law in England and Wales on the 29th April 2021. It increases the maximum sentence available for the most serious animal welfare offences from 6 months to five years. Lord Trees spoke at second reading and gave support to the Bill which brings the UK in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland, whilst also stressing that the power of the legislation is only as strong as our ability to enforce it.

Enforcement – Animal Welfare

No one state organisation has a statutory responsibility for animal welfare. Local authorities can appoint Inspectors, but this is a discretionary and not a legal duty. We also know that the costs to local authorities of enforcing The Animal Welfare Act are substantial. VPRF attended a roundtable meeting with RSPCA inspectorate, Local Government Animal Welfare Group, UK Centre for Animal Law (A-LAW) and the Police and identified key themes around penalties and the prosecution process.

Halal Assurance Scheme – Demonstration of Life

Along with others, Lord Trees and the VPRF have been involved in the fruition of a Halal Assurance Scheme – the Demonstration of Life Project. On Thursday 22nd April, the project was launched with attendees including Halal certification bodies, NFU, the FSA, AHDB, the BVA and the Minister of State for Defra, Lord Goldsmith. The Scheme will give assurance to Halal consumers in the UK and worldwide that sheep (and goats) stunned by the defined protocol fulfil the religious requirements of Halal – namely that an animal be alive (albeit in this case unconscious) at the time of killing. The protocol is based on a similar procedure which has been used in New Zealand very successfully for many years. Voluntary adoption of this protocol by abattoirs, will give UK sheep farmers the opportunity to exploit the international Halal sheep market and it will provide associated commercial opportunities for the participating abattoirs and certifying bodies. At a recent House of Commons International Trade Committee meeting, Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade Policy at the Department for International Trade, noted that some of the UK Halal products were in strong demand for exports and emphasised the opportunities in this area.

The Agriculture Act

The Agriculture Act passed into law last year. We are continuing
to follow up on the commitment made in the Act to improve
animal health and welfare and the professions. We wrote to
George Freeman MP, Convenor of The Reform for Resilience
Commission noting the role of precision technology, including
genetics, in livestock and the role of ruminants in climate
change
. Our comments will inform the Task Force on Innovation,
Growth and Regulatory Reform. Additionally, on the 16th March 2021, Lord Trees wrote to Neil Parish MP, Chair of the EFRA Committee on moving animal across borders, particularly drawing attention to the ‘Future of Small Abattoirs’ report, published last year.

Post-Brexit Trade

We are continuing to work on issues affecting animals, animal trade and the veterinary profession, post-Brexit. We are in consultation with veterinary bodies on work-force shortages and keep up to date on the situation. When it came to our attention that the valuable day-old-chicks exports were negatively affected by post-Brexit UK-EU border controls, we wrote the Secretary of State, George Eustice, outlining the UKs crucial role in global poultry trade. We attend meetings including the Trade and Animal Welfare Coalition webinar, providing a response the UK Trade Policy and the Trade and Agriculture Commission’s recommendations. On 26th November 2020, Lord Trees contributed to the debate on UK-

Japan Trade agreement. He outlined the limitations of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act in allowing sufficient parliamentary scrutiny and also urged the Minister to elucidate details of the Government’s often-quoted commitment:

APGAW

Jointly with APGAW, VPRF provides evidence-based briefings on animal welfare topics such as animals in science and sheep scab control policy in the UK. Lord Trees has chaired the first roundtable on reducing, refining and reusing further animals in science and we are taking this work forward this year.

One Health – United Against Rabies

Lord Trees continues to Chair the United Against Rabies Steering Group. The Steering Group is jointly formed from the tripartite, the OIE, the WHO and the FAO. It provides guidance and oversight to the three working groups made up of international scientists and stakeholders, who are tasked with delivering the goal of global rabies eradication by 2030. This work will continue throughout 2021.

One Health – Official Development Assistance

After a reduction in Official Development Assistance from 0.7 to 0.5% GDP, the budgets affected have recently been announced. Lord Trees and five other peers with health and research expertise wrote to the Prime Minister in April 2021, outlining the huge and devastating impact that the cuts are having on health intervention and research capacity in the UK and globally, as well as the reputational damage caused by the severity and speed of the cuts.

Animal Welfare and the Veterinary Profession – 2021

Going forward, the Queen’s Speech on the 11th May 2021 contains much to engage us at Westminster in the next few months. Additionally, we are scrutinising the Bill that aims to put animal sentience into UK law and getting to grips with the Professional Regulations Bill, which has implications for the future of the profession. We will follow the Environment Bill closely as it comes back into parliamentary business, including how it can better tackle the global health threat of Antimicrobial Resistance.

UK Antibiotic Usage and Resistance Fact File

UK Antibiotic Usage and Resistance Fact File is available here

This document draws on publicly available data to provide an unbiased factual overview of antibiotic usage data in the UK in both animals and humans.

Resistance data for E. coli, Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella spp. are also presented for both animals and humans.

Finally, the document brings together information on current activities being undertaken by the UK Government, human and veterinary healthcare professions and the animal industries to encourage responsible usage of antibiotics and combat the negative impacts of antibiotic resistance on human and animal health.

Update history:
01 December 2016 – First uploaded
09 September 2017 – Updated to include data from new reports, updated definition of “Critically Important Antibiotics” and other changes to format and phrasing in response to feedback received.

UK Antimicrobial Resistance Summit

Tuesday 18th November was European Antibiotics Awareness Day and the VPRF went along to participate in the UK Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Summit organised by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. The event was hosted at Nobel House by Professor the Lord Trees of the Ross, Member of the House of Lords, Nigel Gibbens, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer and Professor Peter Borriello, CEO, Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

EAAD_abx_infographic_2The aim of the meeting was to bring together livestock production industry leaders and animal health representatives from the relevant Government departments and make a unified move from raising awareness to action at a national level.

As part of the cross-Government 5 year AMR strategy substantial outcomes are expected from both the public and animal health sides. However, whilst the Department of Health and Public Health England have the single, public sector NHS to deliver their outcomes, DEFRA and the VMD have multiple different private industry sectors with different issues related to antibiotic use.

EAAD_abx_infographicGeorge Eustice MP (Defra Minister for farming, food and marine environment) and Dr Felicity Harvey ( Director General for Public Health, Department of Health) both spoke at the event to give a sense of the current position of their departments. Prof Borriello spoke on behalf of the VMD.  This was followed by the perspective from industry, with updates from the pig, poultry and dairy sectors, all of whom are at startlingly different stages in their understanding and reduction of antibiotic use.

After lunch there was a round table discussion to consider what had been heard that morning. The main conclusion was that before action can be taken accurate and appropriate data needs to be gathered in one place for in depth analysis. For example, currently it isn’t possible to separate data on sales of pig and poultry antimicrobials into which were used for pigs and which for poultry. Furthermore, sales are not representative of use. There is much work to be done.

Weds 26th March 2014

APPG for Antibiotics

Anti-microbial Resistance (AMR): Animal use and selection of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Lord Trees and I attended the All-party Parliamentary Group on Antibiotics (APPG-A) discussion around the use of antimicrobials in animals. There were two speakers:

  • Mr Peter Harlech-Jones BVSc MRCVS: Past-President of the British Veterinary Association.
  • Mr Christopher Teale: AHVLA

Mr Harlech-Jones spoke about concerns around metaphylactic use of antimicrobials by vets and whether or not using antimicrobials in this way contributes to resistance in man. He re-iterated that in the RCVS code of conduct, which vets must abide by, it states that a veterinary surgeon who prescribes, supplies and administers medications must do so responsibly. He also made a strong case for better recording of antibiotic use (and adverse drug reaction data) and reporting in both humans and animals.

Mr Teale gave a broader overview of the problems raised by looming anti-microbial resistance and highlighted that some infections in man are unrelated to those in animals. He discussed swine dysentery and 5 untreatable incidences where farmers had to depopulate – sterilise – wait – and repopulate from a non-infected source. He also made clear that the situation in the UK will not be replicated in other countries and it was important for the UK to balance free trade with the risk of importing resistant infections.

Before the meeting was rather abruptly adjourned there were lots of questions to be asked.  Unfortunately, due to a last minute change of room there was limited time for questions. There will be a recap session on Tuesday the 24th June with more opportunity for discussion.

Of the few questions that were asked, it seemed that squabbling between medical and veterinary professions about who uses antimicrobials most responsibly and who has evidence of a reduction in their use might not be the most productive way forward for this discussion. We shall look forward to further discussion on the 24th June.

APPG-A

RUMA

Re-Act