Senate inquiry into antimicrobial resistance needs to consider role of nano-silver

MEDIA RELEASE
Friday, 30 November 2012

Friends of the Earth has welcomed the Government’s announcement yesterday of a Senate Inquiry into its handling of antimicrobial resistance, and is calling for the inquiry to carefully consider the contribution that the overuse and misuse of nano-silver is making to this growing problem.

Dr. Gregory Crocetti from the Friends of the Earth Nanotechnology Project said “the overuse of antimicrobials by Australians is contributing to a crisis that the World Health Organisation last year labelled ‘one of the greatest threats to human health today’.”
 
“In Australia more than 7000 deaths each year are caused by bacterial resistance to antimicrobials, including antibiotics and other chemicals such as nano-silver and triclosan.”
 
“It is now widely understood that the widespread overuse and misuse of antimicrobials is an important contributor to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria.”
 
“Of greatest concern, is the creation of multi-drug resistant bacteria - otherwise known as superbugs.”
 
“The medical community has been turning to nano-silver as an antimicrobial of last resort to prevent superbug infections. But at the same time, many companies have seen a marketing advantage in including nano-silver as an ingredient in everyday products such as socks, underpants, toothbrushes and cleaning clothes.”
 
“However, Australia’s top microbiologists have warned the widespread use of nano-silver in ‘antibacterial’ and ‘odour-killing’ consumer products will breed more superbugs, leading to more Australian deaths in hospitals.”
 
Last year Friends of the Earth surveyed leading health experts including Professor John Turnidge, Professor Hatch Stokes and Professor Tom Faunce for its report Nano-silver: policy failure puts public health at risk. These experts branded the regulation of nano-silver a “policy failure” (1).
 
In this report, Professor Hatch Stokes, former president of the Australian Society for Microbiology warned “if we start using nano-silver quite broadly in the environment, then not only will we have bacteria that are resistant to nano-silver, then I would bet they’ll be multi-drug resistant as well” (1).
 
“Friends of the Earth calls on this senate inquiry to heed these expert warnings and recommend a ban on the us of nanosilver in consumer products.”
 
For interview, contact:                   
Dr. Gregory Crocetti, FoE Nanotechnology Project: 0403 733 628
 
(1)   FoE (2011) Nano-silver: policy failure puts public health at risk, http://nano.foe.org.au/sites/default/files/Nano-silver_2011%20Aus%20v2%2...

Image: Maude Farrugia