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Saving antibiotics for when they are really needed: the Dutch example

08/03/2016

Doctors have responded well to the call to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions. But what about farming? The Dutch have shown that antibiotic use can be slashed in agriculture too. So why isn’t everybody doing it? Tony Sheldon reports

“Dutch healthcare uses the fewest antibiotics in the world,” is the bold and justifiable claim of the Dutch Health Council, the government’s independent scientific advisers. The country has had low use for decades.1 Yet in veterinary medicine the Netherlands, the world’s second largest exporter of agri-food products (after the United States), was, until a few years ago, among the highest users. This mismatch sparked action that saw the country cut antibiotic use in farm animals by nearly 60% from 2007 to 2015.

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