The call made by FAO Director Graziano da Silva for halting the use of antimicrobial growth promoters in farm animals on 30 May 2018 was a laudable action made in a global forum, but he should have pointed out that in the EU, antimicrobial growth promoters are already prohibited since 2006. His call is unfortunately picked up by European media outlets, thereby creating an incorrect picture of the way antibiotics are used in European livestock farming. A Eurobarometer study from 2016 already showed that only 37% of European citizens is aware of the EU ban on antibiotic growth promoters and this will only add to the confusion.
The European Commission has in the meantime recognised the contribution of animal nutrition solutions to optimal farm animal health management, together with key factors such as biosecurity, farm hygiene, genetics and vaccination. FAO should create awareness about the advancements made in the field of animal nutrition science to the benefit of animal health and performance, while indeed highlighting the urgency of responsible use of antimicrobials, which does not include growth stimulation. In its Vision 2030, FEFAC advocates for the inclusion of animal nutrition science as part of the solution to help reduce the need for antibiotics at farm level. The topic will be further discussed at the 63rd FEFAC General Assembly in Lyon, France, on 20-21 June 2018 (programme).