In more and more countries, the use of antibiotics is facing pressure. It has been banned in the European Union since 2006. In the Netherlands, the government and business community have been pursuing an active policy to reduce antibiotics in preventive or curative medication. The results are nothing short of impressive.
Johan den Hartog
Managing Director, GMP+ International
Since 2007, the year in which the use of antibiotics in Dutch livestock farming was at its peak, its use has fallen by as much as 70 percent.
“The public perception that the livestock farming industry is wildly using antibiotics is incorrect” says Piet van der Aar of Schothorst Feed Research in his blog. 'However,' Piet writes, 'that perception will remain unchanged if this good news is not also communicated’. (A very valid addition, which does not only apply to antibiotics. Communicate proactively, open the doors, show the outside world what is going well.)
Internationally, Dutch livestock farming is at the forefront of reducing medication with antibiotics. At the request of the Dutch feed sector and livestock farming, GMP+ International introduced the GMP+ NL Country Note in 2011 for the production of antibiotic-free feed. This also benefited better control of carry-over issues in the feed factory.
In 2018, the European Union decided to ban the preventive flock treatment in livestock farming with antibiotics.
The drug is problematic because it also kills good bacteria. This leads to deteriorated intestinal flora and immune systems in animals. In addition, it ensures antibiotic-resistant bacteria (AMR), which makes it more difficult to use antibiotics as medicines.
For these reasons, its use is being discouraged in more and more countries. Last month, the use of antibiotics in the animal production sector was banned in China.
A better approach is to positively influence the intestinal flora of animals and the immune system through nutritional measures. All kinds of products such as oils, plant extracts and other natural products, so-called probiotics, can also be of use. Interesting is the possible positive contribution to the gut flora of insects in feed.
The Dutch animal feed sector was able to be at the forefront because, years before 2006, collective efforts were made to investigate the nutritional effects of the ban.
This shows that the feed sector, anywhere in the world, can make its contribution by taking responsibility and responding to changes in a timely manner. Change is sometimes seen as a threat, but it also offers opportunities for innovation.
At GMP+ International, we are happy to facilitate the feed sector in ensuring the production of antibiotics-free feed. We are considering converting the GMP+ NL Country Note to an internationally applicable standard. I am eager to learn your thoughts about that. Please use the form.
As an international sector, let us take up the challenge. In the Netherlands we can see that we don't need antibiotics. An innovative, future-proof way of working is the recipe for growth and continuity.