For the record, these folks also say that livestock producers don't really use 70% of all antibiotics distributed in the US as the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates. And you know what, we have no idea if they're right. What many people don't realize is that antibiotic use by American livestock producers is one of the best kept secrets on the planet. The UCS had to deduce that number based on US sales of antibiotics combined with data from a country that does publish figures on antibiotics use in livestock: Canada. That's right. No one in the US, not the government, not industry -- no one -- has any responsibility to tell Americans how much antibiotics is actually in their meat. We're just to supposed to Take Industry's Word For It that everything's peachy.
Which is why the Danes insistence on being a part of this debate is so important. Denmark is the largest hog producer in Europe and, realizing the threat to public health posed by routinely feeding healthy livestock antibiotics, they stopped doing it. Over a decade ago. To listen to the AVMA and Chuck Grassley describe Denmark's experience, you'd think that Denmark's hog industry went the way of New York Harbor's oyster beds -- a happy, productive industry destroyed by mismanagement. Except, insist the Danes, that just isn't so.
Photo by The Pug Father used under a CC license