Europe's Mixed Record On Animal Antibiotics

Publication: NPR.org

Author: Dan Charles


03/23/2012 - If Danish pigs can live with fewer antibiotics, why can't their American cousins?

It's a hot topic, especially today. Yesterday, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to proceed with a 1977 plan to outlaw the use of certain antibiotics as growth promotion drugs.

A coalition of public health and environmental groups called it "a great victory for public health." Those groups say that reckless use of antibiotics by beef, pork, and chicken producers — including use of the drugs to make animals grow faster — is promoting the emergence of dangerous antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella and E. coli bacteria.

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The Danish secret? According to Gail Hansen, from the Pew Health Group, the Danes realized that they had to change their farming practices. They weaned their pigs later, reduced the density of their animals, changed the airflow to minimize disease transmission, and looked for animal breeds that seemed better able to withstand diseases. According to Iowa State's Hurd, those changes did increase their costs.

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Read the full article, Europe's Mixed Record On Animal Antibiotics, on NPR's Web site.  

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