Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Danish efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance inspire in the U.S. Congress

Monday 30 Jun 14
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Denmark’s systematic and scientific strategy to combat antimicrobial resistance in food production has been on the agenda at a briefing in the U.S. Congress. At the briefing director of the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Jørgen Schlundt explained how the Danish authorities, Danish farmers, veterinarians and researchers have worked together to tackle the problem and how others can use the Danish experiences.

The use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals is potentially a significant topic in negotiations on a new trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. This is because Europe has stricter regulations for the use of antimicrobials in food production than the United States, in order to reduce the problem of antimicrobial resistance. A briefing was held in the U.S. Congress in May 2014 under the theme: Why transatlantic trade must play a role in addressing antibiotic resistance.

Successful Danish model

"The reality is that Danish pig farmers have experienced a marked increase in productivity after the ban on antimicrobial growth promoters, and Danish pig farms now produce more pigs more efficiently than ever before."

Denmark was the first country in the world to ban the use of antimicrobial growth promoters for animals on a scientific basis. At the briefing director of the National Food Institute Jørgen Schlundt explained how it is possible reduce the occurrence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria by reducing the use of antimicrobials. The development has been documented with data from Denmark's groundbreaking monitoring programme DANMAP, which annually maps out antimicrobial use in humans and animals and the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in animals, food and humans.

”The audience was particularly interested to hear that the farmers have been involved in the efforts, and that a significant reason why the efforts have been so successful is precisely the cooperation between researchers, government and agriculture," Jørgen Schlundt says.

At the meeting he was also able to puncture the myth that Danish pig production was destroyed when the authorities banned antimicrobial growth promoters in the 1990s and introduced stricter regulations for antimicrobial use. “The reality is that Danish pig farmers have experienced a marked increase in productivity after the ban on antimicrobial growth promoters, and Danish pig farms now produce more pigs more efficiently than ever before,” Jørgen Schlundt explains.

Read more

An hour long video recording from the briefing is available on YouTube. Jørgen Schlundt’s presentation starts approximately 15 minutes into the video.

Also read the National Food Institute’s press releases from March 26, 2014: Danish effort to combat antimicrobial resistance mapped out and from March 27, 2012: Denmark is at the forefront in the fight against resistance.

FACTS

Antimicrobials are the most important weapon in the fight against bacterial infections in both humans and animals. However, these agents can lose their effectiveness after repeated use, because bacteria develop resistance to the antimicrobial. This means that it becomes more difficult – or even impossible – to treat common ailments such as pneumonia or other infections. For this reason it is important not to overuse antimicrobials.