Lord Trees calls for the Environment Bill to address AMR surveillance

Lord Trees calls for the Environment Bill to address AMR surveillance

The Treasurer of the APPG on Antibiotics, Lord Trees, has argued that the Environment Bill – which has just received its 2nd Reading in the House of Lords – must consider addressing the existential threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Specifically, he called for the Bill to commit UK Government to the mandatory routine surveillance of antimicrobials, and bacteria resistant to antimicrobials, in the environment.

Lord Trees, the only veterinarian in the Upper House, said on Monday June 7:

“Given such a fundamental threat to human and animal health which involves the environment, it is surprising that this extensive Bill, in all its 249 pages, does not mention AMR once.

“One appreciates that the Bill has to cover a wide range of issues but perhaps this is a missed opportunity to highlight the importance this Government place on the threats posed by AMR. This has been highlighted by the APPG on Antibiotics in a letter to the Secretary of State for Defra from its chair, Julian Sturdy MP.

“I declare here an interest as an officer of that APPG. We are very grateful for a detailed response to that letter from Rebecca Pow MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State. However, it appears that currently there is no mandatory routine surveillance required for antimicrobials in the aquatic environment, nor is there routine surveillance for antibiotic resistance among bacteria in that environment.

“These seem to be essential data-collection functions which would help enable the national action plan to deliver its objectives. Moreover, it is not clear who will be responsible for setting environmental quality standards for antimicrobial environmental contamination. I appreciate that the Bill leaves much detail to secondary legislation but, given the importance of AMR for environmental, human and animal health, will the Minister consider making specific reference in the Bill to actions to monitor and mitigate AMR?”.

You can read the full statement here: Environment Bill – Monday 7 June 2021 – Hansard – UK Parliament