We demand an end to factory farming!

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We demand an end to factory farming!

Dr Klaus Buchner, MEP (ÖDP, Ecological Democratic Party) Munich, Germany

Some 50 000 people die from diseases caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Europe every year!


Tagesschau TV

(Statistics from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), 2015)

We can assume that the real figure is much higher than 50 000. One key reason for the development of these bacteria is the excessive use of antibiotics in factory farming. Even reserve antibiotics, so-called ‘drugs of last resort’, that are vital for humans, are increasingly being used.

Let’s call on Julia Klöckner, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, to act as quickly as possible to put a stop to factory farming and instead bring about a return to organic livestock farming in which prophylactic administration of antibiotics plays no part.
What we are calling for
In order to drastically reduce the use of antibiotics and protect people, animals and the environment, we are calling for a mandatory significant reduction in stock densities in large livestock sheds and improvements in hygiene. The prophylactic administration of reserve antibiotics must be banned immediately. It is also essential that many more official checks are performed to ensure that the rules are being followed and that severe fines are imposed for non-compliance. At the same time, legislators must create much more favourable conditions for organic livestock farming. This requires national or, better still, European legislation to rule out distortions of competition.
Image rights: Fotolia Budimir Jevtic
The Facts
In 2016, there were approximately 753 million animals living in factory farms in Germany (not including fish in aquafarms).
Most of them were chickens (approx. 628 million), pigs (approx. 58 million) and turkey hens (approx. 38 million). Large-scale, essentially prophylactic administration of antibiotics is standard for all of these animals.

‘This is a big problem for people’s health too’, explains Klaus Buchner, ÖDP (Ecological Democratic Party) MEP and active opponent of factory farming. ‘Because if we use our antibiotics intensively in factory farming, it is inevitable that long-term resistance will develop and then we will be left with nothing when someone contracts an infection which would previously have been unproblematic. The problem is made worse by the fact that prophylactic dosages of reserve antibiotics, which are necessary in particularly serious cases, are also being used more and more widely in livestock farming.’

In 2015, Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) conducted research on samples of turkey meat from various supermarkets in 12 German towns and cities. In these nationwide spot tests, between 80 and 90% (!) of the meat samples were found to contain antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria and even ESBL-producing bacteria. By way of comparison, BUND also conducted tests on turkeys slaughtered on farms where they had been kept using traditional, environmentally friendly methods. No antibiotic-resistant bacteria were detected.

It is not just through affected meat that resistant bacteria can be transferred to humans, but also through direct contact with the animals concerned. Farmers, vets and butchers are most likely to be affected and can then pass the resistant bacteria on to other people.
The Health Institute of Münster University gave the following figures for carriers of multi-resistant MRSA bacteria (swab taken from nose) in a publication which drew on a range of studies. 80-90% of pig-farmers! Up to 45% of vets! In contrast, less than 5% of the population as a whole, who do not have regular contact with animals or contact with MRSA-carriers through their profession, were affected. This makes it very clear that the problem stems in particular from factory farming.

Liquid manure is used to fertilise fields, meaning that groundwater also becomes contaminated and the bacteria are therefore transferred via plant-based products.
Dr Klaus Buchner
Ecological Democratic Party (ÖDP) MEP