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Analysis
US farmers ‘massively overusing’ antibiotics

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Jeff Vanuga, USDA

By Matthew Limb

Expert farming campaigners are warning the UK government not to lower its standards in chasing more transatlantic trade post-Brexit.

They say US farmers are ‘massively overusing’ antibiotics.

According to a recent analysis by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, antibiotic use in the USA is ‘five times higher’ in all food animals than in UK.1

Its analysis of the sector has found that dosages in the USA are three times higher for chickens, twice as high for pigs and five times higher for turkeys than in the UK.

The Alliance, a campaigning organisation with members drawn from medical, health, agricultural, environmental, consumer and animal welfare sectors across the EU, found even greater levels in beef cattle – at least nine times and up to 16 times higher per livestock unit.

The EU has banned the importation of US beef due to the use of growth hormones in US cattle. But, as the UK seeks transatlantic trade deals after Brexit, it is widely expected to face pressure to open up food and agriculture markets to US exports.

Suzi Shingler, the Alliance’s campaign manager, said: ‘Trade negotiators who may be tempted to lift the ban on US beef should not only be considering the impact of growth hormones, but also of antibiotic resistance due to rampant antibiotic use.

‘This finding shows the huge advantages of British beef, which is often from grass-reared animals, whereas US cattle are usually finished in intensive feedlots.’

The analysis was released last month at the conference ‘Antimicrobial resistance and agriculture: is there a threat to …

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