Discussion Paper in preparation for EU Farm to Fork Strategy Proposal

12/03/2020

AnimalhealthEurope supports the ambition of the Commission to move towards an EU sustainable food system, with a transformation based on innovative and enabling technologies, such as digital tools, and practices while respecting biodiversity. We, the animal health industry would like to share with you a range of solutions and directions that can help meet the objectives of such transformation. We also believe that innovation in animal health must be supported in order to provide farmers and vets with the necessary tools to respond rapidly to disease outbreaks.

The below summary outlines how we can contribute to the EU and some requests made in our discussion paper, linked below. 

Animal health and welfare

As 20% of farm animals are lost to animal disease and as a consequence cannot enter our food chain, we look to the new Farm to Fork policy to future-proof our new approach to agricultural production. This can start with support measures, e.g. demonstration projects illustrating the benefits thereof, and research projects for new or upcoming technologies and tools that can prevent animal diseases and improve animal welfare.

Disease prevention

Working together, industry and authorities can respond rapidly to halt or slow transmission of existing and newly emerging diseases through the establishment of vaccine banks and/or fast-tracking approvals of vaccines in the case of disease outbreaks. Prioritising investment at national and European level in innovative early research through funding

programmes such as Horizon Europe can also support much-needed R&D to develop new generations of vaccines and other therapies for both animal and human health.

Disease preparedness

It is essential that new technologies are widely accepted, and that sufficient means are dedicated to ensuring that farmers are equipped with the tools that facilitate their work while supporting animal well-being, and that farmers are given adequate training on their use. The new policy should therefore promote those tools and also support farmers to make the transition, allowing them to make full use of this wide range of capabilities.

Responsible use of antibiotics

The new Regulation on Veterinary Medicines provides measures to reduce the need for antibiotic use to a minimum. It is essential that the success of this new Regulation be evaluated prior to any further legislative measure being added beyond the outstanding implementing measures. These measures should also consider the impact on animal health and wellbeing, as well as the impact of such restrictions on public health.

With national One Health action plans under implementation, a continued and steady decrease in the use of antibiotics in agriculture recorded across the Union, and the upcoming implementation of the new Regulation, we strongly oppose the imposition of absolute reduction targets which would place at risk animals in need of antibiotic treatment. Particular care should be taken even with the setting of aspirational goals for reducing sales of antibiotics as bacterial diseases must be treated efficiently in order to ensure good health and welfare.

One Health

As mentioned by the WHO, food safety is an area of work in which the One Health approach is particularly relevant. We take this opportunity to reiterate our long-standing call for the creation of a One Health platform for stakeholders, running in parallel to the EU One Health Platform for Member States, to further our progress in this joint approach.

Farming and dietary preferences

We encourage the European Commission to gather evidence-based and fact-checked information. It is essential that the consumer has access to such information so that the consumer can make an informed decision on his/her food preferences. We ask the Commission to stimulate the use of modern digital tools to inform consumers.