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Weekly Overview: Call for Pig Farmers of Europe Work Together

15 December 2014

EU - Farmers in the European Union are coming together in this ever more globalised world to tackle antibiotic resistance, approve trade in a key GM feed ingredient and adjust to the market effects of the Russian ban on imports of food (including pig meat) from the EU.

Denmark has called for a Europe-wide approach on antibiotic resistance.

In today's globalised world, it is not enough that for the Danes alone to minimise the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, say a leading Danish doctor and pig specialist in a joint statement.

At a time when the stories in the media gives the impression that pig production in Denmark due to resistant bacteria is a potential threat to the entire Danish public health, it is time to lift your eyes and look beyond its borders, according to Steen Lomborg, a doctor and leading hospital consultant and Claus Fertin, director of the Danish Pig Research Centre.

Resistant bacteria are a serious threat to the entire world's population, they say. In some of Europe's southern countries more than half of staphylococci are resistant to commonly used antibiotics compared with about two per cent in Denmark.

But even if we in Denmark among others have lowered consumption of antibiotics in swine production significantly to halt the spread of resistance, we must note that resistance is also a growing problem in Denmark, they continue. It is not only about the one-third of MRSA of type CC398 which is linked to pigs but also the majority of MRSA types that are unconnected to livestock.

Drs Lomborg and Fertin said: "In a globalised world, it is not enough that we only Denmark has focused on minimising the spread of resistant bacteria. We do not live on an isolated island where we can 'keep our own house'. For as long as people, animals and goods traveling across borders, then we will have massive pressure of resistant bacteria from the rest of the world."

Over the last six years in Denmark, a working group of doctors, veterinarians, authorities, researchers and agriculture have examined the status of MRSA CC398 in the country and sought a number of recommendations for possible solutions.

According to Drs Lomborg and Fertin, it is precisely this community that should acknowledge the challenges and seek solutions.

They added: "We can fight from here to doomsday to eradicate MRSA bacteria but we will not have a chance to succeed before other countries are waking up to the challenges. Denmark already leads the way on a number of parameters, leaving competitors and colleagues abroad way behind. We also take the lead on MRSA area, but the politicians at Christiansborg and Brussels should help to make it a common European effort."

The European Union is expected shortly to approve a new genetically modified soybean variety for import after the customary split vote among member countries last week.

As a result, the Commission will be empowered to approve the variety if member countries repeat their "no opinion" vote at an appeals committee in the New Year, which they are expected to do.

At this week's European Union farm council meeting, representatives of Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, Romania, Poland and Ireland are expected to call for temporary private storage aid for pig meat to overcome the market difficulties caused by Russia's import embargo.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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