Bishop of Exeter asks about preventing antimicrobial resistance

The Bishop of Exeter received the following written answers on 28th February 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the ‘One Health’ approach outlined in the report by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Bracing for Superbugs: Strengthening environmental action in the One Health response to antimicrobial resistance, published on 7 February.

Lord Benyon (Con): The Government is aware of the report and Environment Agency staff contributed to initial United Nations workshops that led to its commission. Now that the report has been published, we will assess the content and conclusions. Defra, the Environment Agency and UKHSA are currently working together to investigate antimicrobial resistance in the environment under the Treasury-funded Pathogen Surveillance in Agriculture, Food and Environment (PATHSAFE) project. The Environment Agency is developing possible surveillance methods and data systems that could be used in the future to help us better understand and mitigate environmental antimicrobial resistance.

In 2019, the UK Government published a 20-year Vision of a world in which antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is effectively contained, controlled and mitigated by 2040. In support of the Vision, the Government also committed to developing a series of five-year national action plans that will each prioritise actions and direct resources based on the latest information about what the biggest risks are, and which interventions are most effective addressing them. The first of these plans, published in 2019, takes a comprehensive One-Health approach across humans, animals, agriculture the environment and food. The vision and national action plan were co-developed across government departments, agencies, the health family, the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and with input from a wide range of stakeholders.


The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked His Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the National Farmers’ Union about reducing antimicrobial resistance in livestock.

Lord Benyon (Con): The Government is committed to reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics in animals and to strengthening animal health and welfare standards. We are delivering on this through the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway; NFU representatives have been part of the co-design team looking at how reducing the prevalence of endemic disease and encouraging more responsible use of antibiotics can contribute to slowing the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

Also, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, which coordinates action across Defra under the UK AMR National Action Plan, works closely with the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA). The National Farmers’ Union is an active member of RUMA. RUMA chairs the ‘Targets Task Force’ of vets and farmers which has been instrumental in achieving our national progress in reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics in animals: antibiotic use in livestock has fallen by 55% since 2014, accompanied by a reducing trend in antimicrobial resistance.


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