Dutch farmers use less antibiotics

25-06-2014 | |
Dutch farmers use less antibiotics

The use of antibiotics in livestock in the Netherlands was further reduced in 2013. This is according to figures from the Dutch Authority of Veterinary Medicines (SDa). At the same time, an international conference is being held to further reduce antibiotic resistance.

Between 2012 and 2013, the use of antibiotics in the Dutch pig industry dropped the most, by 30%. Also in the poultry sector, less antibiotics were uses – 25% less compared to 2012. In the veal calf sector, antibiotic use decreased by 15%. In the cattle industry, the antibiotic use remained stable. The decrease in the use of antibiotics is also shown in the sales figures of antibiotics. In 2013, sales were 57.7% down from 2009. SDa is positive about the continued decrease of the antibiotics use but stresses that farmers and veterinarians need to continue to use even less in the near future. The SDa wants to use a more animal-specific approach for this, target values that take scientific knowledge about resistance formation are taken into account.

Netherlands is average user

According to a comparison by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the Netherlands is an average user of antibiotics in livestock, compared to other European countries. The comparison was made of the 2011 figures and is the most recent comparison available. In 2007, the Netherlands was considered one of the top users in Europe. The highest users in 2011 were Cyprus, followed by Italy and Spain. Norway used the lowest volume of antibiotics.

Comparison is difficult

The differences between the EU members states are large, partly due to the large differences in the type of livestock in the countries. Some countries focus more on cattle and some more on pig and poultry production. A comparison between Europe and other continents is even more difficult as data collection of the use (and sales) of antibiotics is different (or lacking), depending on the country. In 2011, US livestock producers purchased 29.9 million pounds of antimicrobials, according to the FDA. It is unknown how much of this was used as preventive in-feed antibiotics, so therefore it is difficult to compare with the European situation.

International conference

Although antibiotic use in many countries is being reduced, antibiotic resistance remains an important topic. On June 25 (today) and 26, international political leaders, leaders of the WHO, FAO and OIE, physicians, veterinarians and other experts from 55 countries are gathered at the international conference on antibiotic resistance, held in The Hague, the Netherlands. The goal is to make an action plan to reduce the increasing antibiotic resistance, both from a human as livestock perspective. A statement, released by the World Alliance Against Antibiotic Resistance prior to the conference, includes ten priorities to fight resistance. One of the priorities is to increase knowledge about the topic among the public and healthcare professionals. There is also a proposal to include antibiotics in the UNESCO list of cultural heritage.

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Emmy Koeleman Freelance editor