Tag Archives: Antibiotic Resistance

Resistance resisted

by Bernard Dixon
New Scientist, 27 June 1979


This year marks a decade since a committee under Professor (now Sir) Michael Swann advised the British government to curb the then wholesale, indiscriminate use of antibiotics in agriculture.

This committee was established because of amply evidenced claims that the inclusion of potent antimicrobial drugs in feedstuffs for pigs, poultry and other livestock (to promote growth and prevent disease) had encouraged the emergence of bacteria resistant to those agents and capable of causing human gastrointestinal disease.

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How the Union got down to Brass Tacks

NFU Insight, 1 June 1979

DAVID LEE, the NFU assistant press officer at Agriculture House, Knightsbridge, was giving the new issue of Radio Times a quick once-over on the afternoon of April 26. Looking across at Roger Turff, the press officer, he said: ‘I’m about to spoil your day’.

Radio Times and the Brass Tacks programme on BBC 2 was to spoil quite a number of days for both NFU members and staff; between them they also involved other specialised divisions of the Union, farmers all over the country, and almost every other organisation connected with Britain’s meat industry.

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The BBC lets agriculture down

Livestock Farming, June 1979

THE BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation has flipped its lid. After weeks of scrupulous impartiality throughout the general election campaign – extending to even fiction programmes – it has seemingly sought to let off steam through the medium of a new programme called Brass Tacks.

This programme – billed in the Radio Times as ‘a new concept in broadcasting – is an insult to the public intelligence and professional journalism. If the hitherto much-respected BBC has any sensitivity left it will review the senior staff appointments on Brass Tacks.

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Survey points to drugs abuses

Big Farm Weekly, 31 May 1979

AN INTERNAL Ministry of Agriculture survey of practices of calf dealers and fatteners has raised new official fears about drug abuse on British farms. The survey, which was instigated last year as part of the last Government’s policy of tightening up on animal welfare, turned its attention to the use of drugs almost as an afterthought.

But preliminary results have now revealed what Ministry vets call ‘worrying’ levels of apparent drug abuse on the farms involved. In particular, the survey has revealed wide and sometimes almost routine use of restricted antibiotics on many farms.

It seems to confirm the worries expressed in the recent BBC TV programme Brass Tacks about the use of one of the products – chloramphenicol, which is the most effective antibiotic against most types of salmonella including the common cattle infection Salmonella typhimurium.

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Animal production and public health: TV programme looks at “risks”

The Veterinary Record, Vol 104 No 20
May 19, 1979


More than 20 veterinary surgeons took part in radio ‘phone-in programmes throughout the country after the screening of BBC’s controversial programme Brass Tacks on May 8. The programme looked at modern intensive methods of animal production and the potential risk to public health.

The programme asked whether it was time to tighten the rules on use of antibiotics even more than the regulations made following the Swann report 10 years ago which had shown that drugs were being misused by some sections of the industry. It asked, too, whether farming should take a different direction and move towards “organic” methods, which were less reliant on the routine use of drugs and chemicals.

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Down to Brass Tacks

The Veterinary Record
Vol 104 No 20, May 19, 1979


There is always a danger in producing what is considered to be “good television”, particularly on a scientific subject, that some of the more mundane yet pertinent facts will be ignored. That was the case in the BBC2 programme Brass Tacks broadcast on May 8.

The programme looked at modern methods of intensive animal husbandry and the potential risk to the public health from antibiotics and other medicinal substances (see below). But as was inevitable given the type of presentation, a number of issues were raised that were not satisfactorily answered.

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Trial by television puts chicken on the salmonella rack

It Shouldn’t Happen to a Pig, BBC 2
Poultry World, 17 May 1979

VIEWERS must have been left confused after last week’s BBC television programme on drugs in animal husbandry and organic versus intensive farming.

The experts, aided by filmed shots of processing plants and abattoirs, told them that poultry was involved in 6,000 of the 11,000 cases of notified food poisoning in a year. Salmonella and the use of drugs was put over as a health risk in the film and pre-publicity that has brought industry protests of bias.

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The BBC should be thoroughly ashamed

by Chris Dunkley
Financial Times, 16 May 1979

Brass Tacks has returned with an interesting innovation in public access which combines national television and local radio, but offers as raw material only the same irresponsibly sensational nonsense which we grew to distrust in its previous series.

The BBC should be thoroughly ashamed of the journalism on this programme, and we shall have to keep a very close eye on it.

Chris Dunkley, Financial Times, 16 May 1979

Howl of rage over BBC programme

London Evening Standard, 15 May 1979

A HOWL of rage has gone up among British farmers over BBC TV’s Brass Tacks film on their industry.

“I have just taken part in a nightmare,” wails British Farm Produce Council chairman Charles Jarvis in a letter to the Daily Telegraph.

Mr Jarvis says he and colleagues in “modern meat production” were “set up” by the BBC.

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Panel protest over farm drugs show

Agricultural Correspondent
Sunday Telegraph, 13 May 1979

A CONTROVERSIAL BBC television programme which said people may be harmed by drugs used on farm animals, has been attacked as a “nightmare” experience and “trial by television of the worst sort” by two farm industry panellists who took part in it.

The programme, shown on May 8, was the first in a new BBC2, “Brass Tacks” series. It included a 30-minute film showing intensive farms and slaughter-house scenes, followed by a studio debate on alternative “organic” farming.

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