Russia set to limit antibiotic use in animal feed

14-09-2021 | | |
Photo: Hans Prinsen
Photo: Hans Prinsen

The Russian government has reportedly supported a long-awaited bill to tighten control over the use of antibiotics in animal feed production.

The bill, if approved by the Parliament and the president, will prohibit farmers from adding antibiotics to feed and the sale of feed containing antibiotics in the absence of a special license or a prescription.

Unjustified use of antibiotics

“The amendments are aimed at strengthening control over the use of antibacterial drugs in livestock and poultry farming,” the Russian deputy Prime Minister Victoria Abramchenko told to Russian state-owned press. The authors of the bill cite fears of growing antibiotic resistance, promising that the new rules will cut down the unjustified use of antibiotics in Russian agriculture.

Limited number of feed antibiotics are subjected to state control

Currently, Russian farmers can use antibiotics in unlimited quantities, not being restricted by the existing regulations. The Russian veterinary standards only prescribe that no antibiotics residues above the allowed limits must be found in the finished products. However, the control is far from perfect even in this field, as only a limited number of feed antibiotics are subjected to state control.

It takes years and millions of dollars to develop new antibiotics, while bacteria develop resistance against them in days and weeks.

Under the new rules, all veterinary drug prescriptions will be registered in the federal state information system. In addition, only persons with a pharmaceutical license will be authorised to add antimicrobial drugs to feed. According to Alexei Ermakov, head of the biology department at the Donskoy State Technical University, Russian scientists are concerned with feed resistance coming from excessive antibiotics use. He said: “It takes years and millions of dollars to develop new antibiotics, while bacteria develop resistance against them in days and weeks.”

Use of antibiotics to stimulate growth

Currently, there is no official statistical data indicating how much antibiotics are used at Russian farms. The Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor backed the proposal, claiming that “there is a problem of uncontrolled and intensive use of antibiotics in agriculture” in Russia. Besides, sometimes antibiotics in Russia are used to stimulate the growth and productivity of livestock, Rosselkhoznadzor admitted.

The Russian Union of Feed Producers has already supported the new bill. “The authorities should strictly control the antibiotic use in animal feed. The use of antimicrobial drugs for prophylactic purposes may be only necessary in exceptional cases of outbreaks at livestock complexes, and not for reinsurance,” Valery Afanasiev, director of the Union of Feed Producers, said.

Vladislav Vorotnikov Eastern Europe correspondent