Ehlert Logo

16. November 2021

EU Parliament rejects ban on antibiotics

Problematic resistance: Environmental committee and human physicians warn The Environment Committee in the EU Parliament wanted to achieve that 5 […]

Problematic resistance: Environmental committee and human physicians warn

The Environment Committee in the EU Parliament wanted to achieve that 5 certain groups of antibiotics may only be used for the treatment of humans as a matter of priority. Members fear increasing resistance in the population due to the mass use of antibiotics in livestock farming. Already, some 33,000 patients die each year in the EU because antibiotics administered to them no longer work. According to Häusling, it is estimated that almost two thirds of all antibiotics are administered to farm animals – although not exclusively to sick animals due to the conditions on farms. Often the drugs are added to the feed for all as a precaution. Resistant germs from stables could spread to the population via meat consumption.

The World Medical Association and the Robert Koch Institute welcomed Häusling’s initiative. Both have long warned about antibiotic resistance. According to, the RKI describes this as one of the “greatest challenges for global health”. If stricter restrictions on the administration of antibiotics were not introduced in animal fattening, more and more patients would find themselves in life-threatening situations due to resistant germs, according to the initiators of the ban motion in the EU Parliament. Because: The more frequently antibiotics are used, the more resistant germs develop.

Pets in danger?

The Association of Practicing Veterinarians, on the other hand, protested against the ban. His fear: A corresponding ban would also prevent the adequate supply of antibiotics to domestic animals, so that veterinary treatments would no longer be possible in some cases. Many concerned pet owners supported the veterinarians’ protest by signing a petition.

The Greens made it clear that the treatment of individual animals with reserve antibiotics should still be possible in the future. The aim of the application for a ban is merely to prevent their intensive use in animal fattening. The chairman of the agricultural committee, Norbert Lins (CDU), pointed out that there are already restrictions and that already today not all reserve antibiotics may be used in animal fattening.

List of reserve antibiotics for humans in progress

For the time being, everything remains the same due to the rejection of the application. In January 2022, the EU Commission must first agree on a list of substances that will be considered reserve antibiotics in the EU in the future. By definition, these are antibiotics that may only be used when others are no longer effective against an infection. The selection criteria were defined as high importance for human health and a non-essential need in veterinary medicine.

The antibiotics that make it onto the list will then probably be reserved without exception for use in human medicine. The sparing use of reserve antibiotics should prevent a further increase in resistance in humans.

Antibiotics not on the list may continue to be used for the benefit of farm and companion animals. However, political discussions on the appropriate use of antibiotics in humans and animals will certainly continue in the future.

Check out our blog for round-the-clock updates on new developments in agriculture and food production. Subscribe to the Ehlert newsletter to make sure you don’t miss anything.