Decline in antibiotic use in livestock reduces antibiotic-resistant microbes

Photo credit: Michael Newton Photo credit: Michael Newton

Widespread and indiscriminate feeding of antibiotics to livestock is commonplace in conventional farming systems, and has led to an increase in microbial antibiotic resistance in both livestock and humans. A recent article in Environmental Health Perspectives describes how Denmark is cracking down on the problem. For more than two decades Denmark has regulated the sale and use of all antibiotics for livestock, and has completely banned the use of antibiotics in pigs for non-medical reasons. As a result, there has been a drastic reduction in the number of antibiotic-resistant microbes in both livestock and humans, with almost no negative impact on the pork industry. Currently, antibiotic use for livestock in the United States is largely unregulated. However, Denmark’s example demonstrates how prudent regulation can make the livestock industry more efficient while protecting human health.