Denmark Shows the World How to Stop Mass Medicating Animals
COPENHAGAN, Denmark — Michael Nielsen unlocks the door to his pig factory. He doffs his jacket, pants and muddy boots and zips on white coveralls. Then he steps into the maze-like complex housing several thousand pigs.
From the birthing room — where one enormous sow has just delivered 22 squirming piglets — to the insemination stalls where the next generation is in the works, Nielsen prides himself on smart, efficient farming.
Here in Denmark that means recording every single dose of antibiotic farmers use.
Health authorities around the world are sounding the alarm over the superbugs showing up in not only in hospitals but also at farms, slaughterhouses and supermarket meat counters. Antibiotics must be used more judiciously, they say, because the drugs help create resistant bacteria that are increasingly difficult — sometimes impossible — to kill.
Taylor says he and his colleagues are working to improve antimicrobial stewardship and deal with problems — or “black holes” as some call them — like importation of massive amounts of antibiotics by Canadian farmers. And Health Canada is being applauded for informing “stakeholders” last week that it is planning a three-year phase out use of “medically-important” antibiotic growth promoters that are used to spike the feed and water of animals to speed their growth.