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May 20, 2024
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EU to reduce usage of Antimicrobials in farmed animals and aquaculture by 50% by 2030

The EU has recognised that there is a need to reduce unnecessary use of antimicrobials in both humans and animals. Reducing the use in farmed animals and in aquaculture by 50% by 2030.

Antimicrobials, agents that kill or stop the growth of microorganisms, are partially taken up by livestock. The residues find their way into the environment, including as part of manure and sewage sludge that is spread on farmland as fertiliser. Once in the soil or water, these compounds can pose a risk to ecosystems, altering microbial communities and affecting their functions.

The presence of antimicrobial residues and antimicrobial resistant bacteria and genes in the environment could also contribute to the emergence and spread antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Antimicrobial-resistant infections are estimated to cause over 35,000 human deaths per year across European Economic Area countries and over 1.27 million deaths globally in 2019.

According to a European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing, the use of antimicrobial drugs in farmed animals and in aquaculture has decreased over the past few years in Europe, the on-going presence of antimicrobial residues in the environment poses risks to ecosystems and human health.

The briefing highlights the importance of addressing risks arising at the interface of human, animal and ecosystem health through a One Health approach, recognising that no discipline or sector of society can mitigate such risks in isolation.

In particular, the briefing supports the broader work of EU agencies on One Health, as well as the EEA’s participation in the EU Cross-Agency One Health Task Force which includes the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The task force of the five agencies will work on implementing the plan over the next three years (2024-2026), focusing on five strategic objectives: strategic coordination, research coordination, capacity building, communication and stakeholder engagement, and joint inter-agency activities. This will ensure that the scientific advice provided by the agencies is increasingly integrated.

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