factory farmed chickens

G20 countries advised to end antibiotic abuse on farms


Days ahead of the G20 agriculture ministers meeting, leading public health experts and consumer advocacy groups have reprimanded the world’s major economies for failing to end overuse of antibiotics in farmed animals fuelling the superbug crisis.

Over 20 experts gathered virtually at The Animal Welfare, AMR and One Health Forum on Tuesday (September 14), organised by World Animal Protection and ReAct Asia Pacific, to agree on an advocacy plan to end growth promotion and mass preventative use of antibiotics. Attendees included representatives from Health Action International Asia Pacific, Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection and European Public Health Alliance.

Almost three-quarters of the world’s antibiotics are given to animals. The majority of antibiotics are administered on factory farms to prop-up low-welfare practices such as the raising of fast-growing meat chickens and routine mutilation of piglets.

G20 Summit

With the G20 agriculture ministers due to meet on September 19-20 in Florence, Italy, the group is calling on national governments to take the following steps:

  • Introduce and enforce bans on use of antibiotics to promote fast growth or prevent disease across groups of animals in line with World Health Organisation recommendations
  • Do not approve further industrial farms and support the transition to a humane and sustainable food system, ensuring access to high quality protein in low-middle income countries
  • Measure and publicly report on sales and use of antibiotics, as well as superbugs on farms and in the environment.

Despite antibiotic overuse being mentioned in previous G20 ministerial meetings, monitoring of antibiotic use on farmed animals remains weak and governments still allow industrial farming to routinely use antibiotics.

This drives the emergence of superbugs, which pass from animals to people, impacting our food safety and leaving us less able to fight disease. It is estimated that around 2.4 million people could die of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Europe, North America and Australia, between 2015 and 2050.

Investing in as little as $2 per capita in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries could prevent 47,000 AMR-related deaths a year.

Jacqueline Mills, Global Head of Farming, World Animal Protection said:

Billions of animals who are factory farmed each year suffer unthinkable cruelty, but there is a better way. We need to put an end to the worst abuses of animals in factory farms and stop the mass preventative use of antibiotics.

The food industry needs to embrace a humane and sustainable future. We need animals living good lives in genuinely high welfare systems, and widespread uptake of plant-based diets in countries that have high levels of meat consumption.

Philip Mathew, ReAct Asia Pacific said:

Intensification of agriculture has certainly increased food animal production globally and made meat products economically more accessible to poorer sections of the society. But good husbandry measures are often overlooked and antibiotics are used extensively to increase output in factory-style farms. This is a big driver of antibiotic resistance and has the power to affect the sustainability of food systems, especially in low-resource settings. In most cases, food has become cheaper because we are simply transferring the sustainability costs to the future generations.


Superbugs are antibiotic-resistant bacteria and have been called one of the biggest threats to global health and development. The overuse of antibiotics has led to the spread of superbugs, and impacts millions of people around the world, especially in developing countries. 700,000 people worldwide die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections, and this is projected to rise to 10 million deaths annually by 2050.

Read the communique from the public health experts and advocacy groups here.

Image credits: Hero: C.Lotongkum / Shutterstock.com, News page: World Animal Protection

Chicken on a farm, Victoria, Australia

Factory farming

Factory farming does not just inflict unimaginable suffering on billions of animals, but the intensive and cruel methods also lead to the destruction of habitats and release climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

Calf at a dairy farm, Sri Lanka. Credit: Amy Jones / Moving Animals

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Factory farming traps farmed animals in an endless cycle of abuse and cruelty. This tragedy will only worsen as demand for meat grows globally.

“The food industry needs to embrace a humane and sustainable future. We need animals living good lives in genuinely high welfare systems, and widespread uptake of plant-based diets in countries that have high levels of meat consumption.

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