French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll joined around 160 people from the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health on November 12th in Paris to discuss progress on the fight against antibiotic resistance in humans and animals. This, the third seminar of its kind, was organized by the French General Directorate for Food – a department within the Ministry of Agriculture – to recall the importance of collectively (within the animal sector as well as in human medicine) overcoming current challenges we face in preserving the potency of our arsenal of antibiotics.

©Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr.

©Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr.

This particular seminar focused on three topics: the surveillance of resistant bacteria, the effect of continued antibiotic exposure on resistant strains, and the spread of resistant bacteria between man and animal. Each topic identified issues and proposed solutions from a human and veterinary medical perspective and both sides stressed the importance of sanitary and medical prevention. France, for example, has observed an encouraging -5.5% decrease in veterinary antibiotic use since 1999, ranking second in the EU for the reduction of veterinary antibiotic consumption behind the Netherlands.
But room for improvement is still ample. The implementation of the Ecoantibio plan depends largely on the cooperation between the agrifood industry and stakeholders, and a new law makes participation easier. The “Future Law for Agriculture,” adopted last October 13th, includes legal measures that will promote the reduction of antibiotics use through the Ecoantibio plan:

  • Recommendations for good administration practices for antibiotics will be established by June 30th 2015.
  • Antibiotics have been removed from the list of substances required for the establishment livestock farming sanitary programs in order to avoid systematic recourse to antibiotics as preventative measures.
  • A list of critical antibiotics will be formed based off of three scientific reports. Thus, certain antibiotics will be reserved for human medicine and inappropriate use will be minimized.
  • Economic measures have been taken to prohibit discounts and rebates and commercial agreements related to the sale of antibiotics.
  • Obligatory declaration of any sale of antibiotics.
  • A fixed goal of a 25% reduction in the use of 3rd generation cephalosporins and of 4th generation fluoroquinolones.