A new report by the World Animal Protection UK states that antibiotic overuse on UK factory farms caused almost 2,000 human deaths in 2022. It also shows that bacteria linked to antibiotic use in factory farms are predicted to cause more than 52,000 deaths between now and 2050 unless action is taken.

The report, titled, “Is factory farming killing us?”, and based on a study produced by Massimo Canali, Associate Professor at the University of Bologna, looked at the effects of intensive animal farming on human health and the economy.  The report revealed that UK farmers have reduced antibiotic usage per kilo of animal in recent years. Still, the number of animals raised for meat is rising, so by 2050 the amount of antibiotics used will increase by 6.9%.

The EU banned the routine preventative use of antibiotics on farms in 2022, but as the UK is no longer in the EU, it is still allowing it. 

Lindsay Duncan, World Animal Protection UK Farming Campaigns Manager, told Plant Based News: “We hope this report highlights to the UK government the importance of matching the EU regulations banning the routine and preventative use of antibiotics on farms.”

Dr Ron Daniels, member of the UK Sepsis Trust, said, “In the UK, the recent reduction by the farming industry of antibiotic use doesn’t go far enough. We must end the routine preventative use of antibiotics to reduce the human health and economic burden of AMR. To do this we have to raise animal welfare.” 

WAP says, “The prophylactic use of antibiotics often overlaps with the routine use of antibiotics on farms and banning one without the other will most likely result in unforeseen loopholes that would allow for business as usual.” However, it is strange that WAP, being an animal welfare organisation as opposed to an animal rights organisation promoting veganism, seem to be advocating not treating animals that are suffering from infection, and yet avoiding the ultimate solution, which is preventing them not to becoming ill in the first place by banning the breeding of farmed animals and replacing animal agriculture with plant-based agriculture, which is what vegans ask.  

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.