Cutting Antibiotics: Denmark Leads Way in Healthier Pig Farming

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Julia Koch, November 13, 2013 (Photo Gallery - Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein).

Many tons of antibiotics are administered every year to chickens and pigs in Europe, a trend that encourages the rise of drug-resistant microbes. But Denmark has shown how farmers can be made to abandon this policy of dangerous over-medication.

Before Michael Nielsen goes into his barn, he first strips down to just his T-shirt, socks and underwear, pulls on a white jumpsuit and rubber shoes, and scrubs his hands with disinfectant. Only then does he check on his pigs … //

… The Approach of a Post-Antibiotic Era:

Each use of antibiotics creates more bacteria with genetic resistance to antimicrobial agents, eventually resulting in drug-resistant “killer bugs” that can make a lung infection, for example, life threatening for humans as well.

“The more antibiotics we use today, the less chance we’ll still have effective antibiotics tomorrow,” warns Steven Solomon from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US. Already, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC estimate that each year over 40,000 people in the European Union and the United States die of infections caused by multi-resistant microbes. Epidemiologists predict a coming “post-antibiotic era.”

Scientists believe part of the responsibility lies with farmers’ careless overuse of these drugs. Doctors, too, overprescribe antibiotics for human patients, but experts estimate that twice as many antibiotics are now prescribed to healthy animals as to sick humans. “I think we have this the wrong way round,” says England’s Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies. “Epidemiologists don’t need to prove that using antibiotics for livestock poses a danger. The vets need to prove why they need so many antibiotics.”

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan likewise criticizes a powerful lobby she says wants to “prevent regulation of any kind.” Just one country, Denmark, is a “pioneer in its handling of this problem,” Chan says.

Denmark first slammed on the brakes and began strictly regulating the use of antibiotics 20 years ago. If farmers’ usage increases despite these regulations, they face sanctions. In Germany, on the other hand, until recently there was no data on the amount of antibiotics used in agriculture. And analysis broken down by species or by individual farm, as is available in Denmark, doesn’t exist in Germany.

Germany Lagging Behind Other Countries: … //

… (full text).

Links:

Factory Farming: The True Price of a Pork Chop, on Spiegel Online International, by Susanne Amann, Michael Fröhlingsdorf and Udo Ludwig, October 23, 2013 (Photo Gallery): Germany slaughters 58 million pigs a year and has built an efficient meat industry second only to the US in pork exports. Its optimized breeding, feeding and killing system churns out wondrously cheap cutlets — but at a hidden cost to the environment and our health …;

Phantom Collector: The Mystery of the Munich Nazi Art Trove, on Spiegel Online International, by Spiegel Staff, Nov 11, 2013 (Photo Gallery): The world has been captivated by the discovery of more than 1,400 works of art in a Munich apartment, among them many lost masterpieces stolen by the Nazis. The mystery surrounding the paintings reveals much about the great tragedies of the 20th century — and Germany’s attempt to grapple with its past …;

Nazi Plunder: 1,500 Modern Artworks Found in Munich Flat, on Spiegel Online International, Nov 4, 2013  (Photo Gallery): The spectacular discovery of modernist masterpieces in a squalid Munich apartment is the latest twist in a story that began almost 80 years ago. Many of the works appear to be among those confiscated by the Nazis as “degenerate art,” and it remains unclear what will become of them …;

Your search: all articles on World War II, on Spiegel Online International.

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