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Concern over animal medication

Excessive use of unprescribed antibiotics on livestock criticised

FRENCH livestock breeders are being criticised for the excessive use of non-prescribed medicines and antibiotics to treat their animals.

A memo sent to prefects in early February from the Directorate General of Food (DGAL) reports "major non-conformities" found during the delivery of medicated feed by breeders. Mixed with cattle feed antibiotics are used to prevent common diseases, however the memo identifies incorrect practices such as the "provision of medicated feeds without prescription at the request of the animal's owners."

"It shows that it is very easy for a farmer to obtain medication for his cattle without a prescription and that is worrying when you know that animal exposure to antibiotics has increased by 12% between 1999 and 2009", says Arsac Sebastian, the association of animal protection L214. The Ministry of Agriculture is aiming to reduce the use of antibiotics for livestock by 25% in five years.

The National Federation of Agricultural Holders' Unions (FNSEA) sees the memo as a "wake-up call for all links in the chain." FNSEA vice president, Pascal Ferrey, says "Sometimes some vets or pharmacists deliver massive amounts of drugs without making a prior visit or farmers simply buy drugs directly over the Internet from abroad."

Jacky Mallet, president of the National Association of Veterinary Pharmacists believes it is time to remember the rules and restore some order: "It is not for the breeder to make their own diagnosis nor for the manufacturer of medicated feeds to apply to a vet for a prescription retrospectively after selling prescription antibiotics."

The DGAL has announced that it will bring prosecutions against prescribers of antibiotics who contravene the rules.

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