Sow with growth/hernia on UK factory farm 2022.

AMR exposed - the growing challenge of anti-microbial resistance


The global rise of superbugs has emerged as a significant issue with recent reports revealing that rivers are awash with superbug pollution around UK factory farms.

Read on to find out more about AMR and why urgent government action is needed to prevent a global health crisis… 

What are antibiotics? 

Antibiotics are medications used to treat or prevent bacterial infections and have saved innumerable lives. These drugs either kill bacteria or inhibit their growth and reproduction. Antimicrobials encompass a wide range of agents that target microorganisms, including antivirals (against viruses), antifungals (against fungi), antiparasitics (against parasites), and antibiotics (against bacteria). 

When are antibiotics used? 

In the medical field, antibiotics are administered to patients to combat bacterial infections, such as strep throat or urinary tract infections, or to prevent infections following major surgeries like joint replacements or Caesarean sections. 

Why can antibiotics become dangerous? 

The misuse and overuse of antibiotics have led to a critical issue known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR), or antibiotic resistance. Bacteria reproduce and evolve rapidly, and frequent exposure to sublethal doses of antibiotics allows them to develop resistance. This makes bacterial infections more difficult to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, and death. 

Around 75% of the world's antibiotics are administered to animals, many of which are kept in poor and unhygienic conditions on factory farms. The excessive use of antibiotics in these settings leads to the emergence of superbugs. 

Animals on factory farms are often confined in overcrowded spaces, preventing them from exhibiting natural behaviours and increasing their stress levels. This stress makes them more susceptible to illness, prompting the preventative use of antibiotics to mitigate disease risk in these suboptimal conditions. 

The overuse of antibiotics accelerates the development and spread of bacteria resistant to treatments for life-threatening infections. These resistant bacteria, or 'superbugs,' can spread from farms through water, air, workers, insects, wildlife, and meat, eventually reaching humans. 

This is predicted to result in UK economic losses to £1.39 billion in 2050 if we don’t act now. Over the 2024-2050 period, productive years lost due to illnesses and deaths will be approximately over 1 million, costing £37.55 billion, or around 1.51% of the UK's GDP. 

Sign our petition to stop factory farming 

Animals on factory farms endure unthinkable conditions that, without antibiotics, they wouldn’t survive in. We need to urgently ensure that animals are raised in humane, sustainable systems that gives everyone the right to high-quality food that has been humanely reared and gives every farmed animal a good life. 

Sign the petition now, it only takes 2 minutes

Chickens crammed into a broiler farm in the UK

Confined in cruelty

Four years post-Brexit and amidst an election year, the state of UK farming is in turmoil. Our investigations have revealed that farmed animals in the UK are suffering more than ever as factory farming rises 13% in 5 years.

Read our report
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