Denmark, Antibiotics, Rest of the Story

During the past week I have noticed an increase of the promotion of Denmark’s ban on the use of antibiotics for sub-therapeutic use. What has not been publicized is what has transpired since the ban went into place…it has not been all “roses.” These points were compiled after being able to hear a presentation by Dr. H. Scott Hurd of Iowa State.

1. Antibiotics are being used very sparingly since the ban. Farmers and veterinarians must now wait until animals are exhibiting clear signs of illness before treating which leads to higher doses of antibiotics being used to treat the animal, suffering and an increase in mortality. The Denmark ban led to an increase in diarrhea in pigs and an increase in deaths by more than 20% World Health Organization Report.

2. It is important to understand that the antibiotics used to prevent disease are not used to treat humans. However, the antibiotics used to treat disease, are also used to treat humans. The ban actually increases the use of more antibiotics that are shared in use with humans, not decreases.

3. The Denmark ban has led to a decrease of farms in Denmark from nearly 25 thousand in 1995 to fewer than 10 thousand in 2005. Farms were unable to remain in business due to the increase in death loss.

4. Since the Denmark ban, antimicrobial use has increased nearly 110% while number of animals has only increased 5%, due to higher dosages being used to treat, rather than prevent (DANMAP 2008).

5. Denmark now exports their pigs at weaning to other countries to be fed out for market, nearly 5 million in 2008.

6. Enterococcus spp, is the only bacteria that showed a decrease in resistance since the ban was put in place, and it is not even a food borne pathogen (DANMAP 2008).

7. Since the antibiotic ban, farmers in Denmark are now utilizing zinc to help control diarrhea in hogs and ironically, it is highly likely that this may be encouraging incidence of Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA).

8. Most importantly, the WHO has stated that there has been no evidence of improved public health since the ban. In fact, resistant Salmonella in humans has increased and Denmark had their largest outbreak of MSRA (WHO 2002).

For more information on this and other food risk modeling information, I encourage you to visit Dr. H. Scott Hurd’s page.

  1. cashtwentytwo
    November 4, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Thanks for clearly presenting the facts! You did a great job responding to the misconceptions surrounding this issue.

  2. trent bown
    November 4, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    Nice job Jeff

  3. Lisa Claessen
    November 4, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    Very interesting article! Thank you

  4. November 5, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    Thanks for the facts – something often overlooked when media frenzy prevails.

  5. November 6, 2011 at 6:15 AM

    Sorry, this is a new topic for me, how long has the ban been in place?

    • commonsenseagriculture
      November 6, 2011 at 8:09 AM

      13 years…went into effect in 1997-98.

  6. November 6, 2011 at 8:27 AM

    I learned a lot by reading this and thank you so much!

  7. November 6, 2011 at 11:26 PM

    Wow, this is something I had no clue about. Doesn’t make sense how this could be good in any way. Just the thought of consuming anything with a higher dosage of antibiotics kind of makes me ill.

    • commonsenseagriculture
      November 7, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      Thanks for posting Mimi. Important to remember that NO meat containing AB’s can be sold for consumption. At issue, is the FDA making it illegal to utilize, under supervision of a veterinarian, the use of AB’s to prevent disease, which will in turn increase the necessity to use stronger AB’s to treat disease. The AB’s we utilize to treat disease are the those that are also utilized in humans. This movement lacks commonsense…in my humble opinion.

  8. November 7, 2011 at 8:24 AM

    Everything Jeff pointed out is true. He left out the part about the object of the “experiment” (that’s what they’re calling it) which was an improvement in the overall health of the population. There wasn’t any. Plus the fact, the veterinarians are under the thumb of an oversight committee. If they use too much or too little antibiotics to cure the previously preventable diseases, they are shut down until an investigation is completed. This whole stupidity has put a lot of European farmers out of business.

  9. November 8, 2011 at 7:43 AM

    Great job on getting the facts in place on this! We now have a prime example of good intentions gone wrong when it comes to animal health…and human health. I’m glad they were the test lab for this and not our country…and the law of unintended consequences always determines the overall outcome.

  1. December 18, 2011 at 1:01 AM
  2. July 26, 2013 at 8:50 PM

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