The EU Parliament has rejected plans to reserve five specific groups of antibiotics for use in humans and to largely ban them in animals.

The MPs rejected a corresponding project by the Green MEP Martin Häusling on Thursday in Strasbourg.

Now other antibiotics for animals are likely to be banned in the EU - which one is unclear.

The German Medical Association sharply criticized the decision as a wasted opportunity.

Veterinarians and CDU MPs, on the other hand, welcomed the vote.

The President of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt, told the German Press Agency: "With sight, Europe is heading for times when there are no more life-saving reserve antibiotics." It would have been easy to close loopholes to prevent the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry and thus to protect human health from the development of resistant pathogens. "The decision of the MPs can actually cost human lives under certain circumstances."

Häusling also said: "It is a very bad day for human medicine." But it is also a bad day for dog and cat owners.

The Greens MP and the Environment Committee of the EU Parliament wanted to ensure that five groups of antibiotics should be reserved primarily for people, but may be administered to individual sick animals in exceptional cases.

The aim was to end the massive use of these substances in animal fattening in order to prevent antibiotic resistance.

Care for pets

The proposals had sparked protests at the Association of Practicing Veterinarians. He feared that pets could no longer be adequately treated with antibiotics in the future. He had started a signature campaign. Numerous pet owners who feared for the medical care of their four-legged friends signed it. Association managing director Heiko Färber was pleased with the result of the vote: "We believe that this is the right way to tackle the fight against antimicrobial resistance."

Now it remains with the original plans of the EU Commission.

This also wants to name antibiotics that should only be allowed for humans.

However, the Brussels authority does not yet want to name any specific substances that should be on the list of reserve antibiotics.

Instead, she presented criteria for their selection: for example, a high level of importance for human health and a "non-essential" need in veterinary medicine.

Only every third antibiotic used in humans

Reserve antibiotics are drugs that are used for infectious diseases when normal antibiotics no longer work. The aim is to use these funds as restrictively as possible so as not to endanger their effectiveness through developing resistances. The reason: the more an antibiotic is used, the more likely resistant pathogen subtypes will prevail. Such resistances are feared: According to the EU Commission, 33,000 people die every year in the EU because antibiotics no longer work on them.

According to estimates, 66 percent of all antibiotics worldwide are used for farm animals and not for humans, explained Häusling.

In fattening farms, healthy animals are still treated with antibiotics through feed or water if there are sick animals in the barn.

Resistant germs from the stables can reach people through meat, for example.

According to Häusling's office, the Commission must clarify which substances will end up on the EU list of reserve antibiotics by January 28, 2022.

In all likelihood, these funds should then only be allowed for humans - the commission recently ruled out individual treatment of sick pets, as Häusling had called for.

The veterinary association shot itself in the knee, said the Green MP.

"Lobby Victory That Was Gained Using False Information"

He criticized what he believed to be a dishonest campaign by the association - including against him personally.

It is incomprehensible that the interests of the veterinarians and the agricultural lobby are now obviously weighted higher than those of the human medicine, who had supported his project.

“You can't equate the protection of guinea pigs with human medicine.” According to SPD MP Tiemo Wölken, the decision of the EU Parliament is “a lobbying victory that was won with false information”.

The managing director of the veterinary association, Färber, denied the allegations of having carried out a fake news campaign.

His association was always ready to talk and also to reduce the use of antibiotics.

But with Häusling's plans, there was a risk that too many medicines for animals would have disappeared.

In addition, group treatment of farm animals cannot yet be replaced - at least not without accepting the death of many animals, said Färber.

Whether you want that, you can't decide on the side.

After the accusations of Häusling, many veterinarians are now being attacked by angry citizens in their practices.

Norbert Lins (CDU), Chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the EU Parliament, had also criticized Häusling's plans in advance. His objection to the action of the EU Commission would ultimately have delayed solutions, he said. "The European Commission's proposal is science-based and proportionate." It already represents "a reduction in the antibiotics available in veterinary medicine and improved protection against antibiotic resistance for humans".