The hon. Gentleman speaks with wisdom and experience. No doubt, he too has looked at the European position, which is completely the opposite of the one taken by the RCVS. There is a European directive on organic products, which states in article 24(2) of Commission regulation (EC) No. 889/2008, that
“Phytotherapeutic”— that is, herbal—
“and homeopathic products, trace elements…shall be used in preference to chemically-synthesised allopathic veterinary treatment or antibiotics”.
That was because the European Union as a whole was so worried about the abuse of antibiotics, and I started speaking about the use of antibiotics in animals in the 1987 Parliament.
Let me give my hon. Friend the Minister the view of a farmer, who wrote to me, saying
“did you know that farmers often like using homeopathy for cows with mastitis because if they do so, they can sell the milk. If they use antibiotics, the milk must be thrown out.”
Safety is very important, and I hope the Minister will dispose of that point later as some homeopathic vets have simply stopped practising because they perceive themselves to be under a legal threat.
This is at a time when, according to the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons, there is an explosion of interest in homeopathy, largely I would suggest because of the antibiotics problem. It says that
“there is an explosion of interest in CAM”— complementary and alternative medicine—
“including Homeopathy”, in the agricultural sector where the drive is to reduce and replace dependence on antibiotics in light of Antibiotic Resistance…concerns”.