September 23, 2009

Do ‘Danes know best’ in responsible use of agricultural antibiotics?

Jessica Krauss

Jessica Krauss

Earlier this week we received word from Amsterdam that the Dutch may be followers of Center for a Livable Future’s Meatless Monday campaign. While the Dutch may be learning from the United States, maybe it’s time for the United States to also start taking pointers from somewhere else?

David Wallinga published a well-written op-ed two days ago in the Twin Cities Daily Planet entitled, “Why Danish Farmers Stopped Feeding Antibiotics to Animals.” The answer to this question, according to Mr. Wallinga, is that in 1998 they made a rational decision in realizing that the antibiotics that they had been using could be a public health issue, create a risk for their strong exporting meat market, and even lead to deteriorating human health by diminishing the effectiveness of antibiotics for serious infections by creating resistance.

The article reiterates the point that Center for a Livable Future makes: antibiotics do not have to be part of modern day agriculture. Why then, however, haven’t we here in the United States been able to follow in Denmark’s footsteps and lower the estimated 70 percent of antibiotics that we feed to healthy animals?

According to Mr. Wallinga we have a limited number of excused to make. We can’t say that Denmark doesn’t make agriculture a top priority—Denmark remains the largest exporter of pork in the world.

We can’t say that we care more about the health of our animals—the sick animals still get treated with antibiotics in Denmark. We can’t say that we care more about productivity—productivity of Danish agriculture has continued to improve. We can’t say that we care too much about profit—there has been no change in the price of meat for consumers.

Then what is it? Mr. Wallinga answers this with a question: “Could it be that the largest producers of of animal antibiotics, like Bayer and Pfizer, are major supporters of the status quo?”

I’ll let you answer that question.

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  1. Pingback: Caught in Between » Indecisiveness

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