Health

Background

Ukraine: Campaign to limit the use of in-feed antibiotics

Ukraine’s biotechnology company Epikur has posted a petition on the website of the national parliament demanding a limit on the use of in-feed antibiotics in the country. If 25,000 signatures are collected by 5 December 2019, the petition will be debated in parliament to consider whether a draft bill should be brought forward.

The authors of the petition raised concerns about anti­microbial resistance and superbugs, claiming that “there is no statistical information that registers the use of antibiotics in the food industry. As a result antibiotic usage is uncontrolled and its consequences remain unclear.” “Epikur has spent 2 years developing a method of raising broilers on an antibiotic-free diet,” said Olexey Kovalenko, director of Epikur, at a press conference in Kiev. “Our company has managed to achieve sustainable results producing poultrymeat without the use of feed antibiotics. It is really possible although it requires a strict programme, a firm commitment by the company as well as discipline on the part of the farm personnel involved,” Kovalenko said.

Thanks to the Epikur project about 2% of poultrymeat on the Ukrainian market is produced without any use of in-feed antibiotics. Photo: Tim Scrivener
Thanks to the Epikur project about 2% of poultrymeat on the Ukrainian market is produced without any use of in-feed antibiotics. Photo: Tim Scrivener

Main trends and standards

The technology was introduced at the Vladimir Volyn poultry farm in Ukraine in 2017. Thanks to that project about 2% of poultrymeat on the Ukraine market is produced without any use of in-feed antibiotics, according to Epikur. “Seeing in which direction the main trends and standards of our industry are moving, we began working on a programme of growing poultry without antibiotics. Today we can confidently say that we have beaten our targets of 4 years ago. The production performance of poultry on the antibiotic-free diet is only slightly less than birds fed a regular diet,” said Alina Sych, director general of the Vladimir Volyn poultry farm.

No political will

Over the past few years Ukrainian analysts have been saying that the issue of antimicrobial resistance was not as high on the industry’s agenda as it was in the European Union or the United States. There is little consumer awareness in the Ukraine about superbugs and therefore the demand for antibiotic-free poultrymeat is fairly small. Epikur decided to start a petition because the government refused to consider earlier requests to amend national legislation on the use of antibiotics in animal feed on farms. These requests were not formally refused but officials simply didn’t look into them because it was presumed that no one would be interested in such policy changes. Kovalenko added that the new petition is the next step in getting the subject on the agenda. “It will be a test for the new Ukrainian government.” Pending the procedure, there was no reaction to the petition from Ukrainian government officials.