Minimal Use of Medications in Icelandic Farming Skip to content

Minimal Use of Medications in Icelandic Farming

Norway and Iceland use smaller amounts of antimicrobial agents in agriculture than do any other European nations, Bændablaðið (the Farmers’ Paper) reports. As much as 8,176 tons of antimicrobial agents were sold in 29 European countries in 2014, close to 67 percent of which was used in three countries, that is, in Spain, Germany and Italy. That is the result of a new report from the European Medicines Agency.

The report is titled Sales of Veterinary antimicrobial agents in 29 European Countries in 2014: Trends across 2011 to 2014, Sixth ESVAC Report. You can read it here.

Use of antimicrobial agents, antibiotics among them, in agriculture in Iceland is among the lowest of all countries. By comparison, the use of antimicrobial agents in Spain in 2014, as measured in mg/PCU was more than 80 times what it was in Iceland. Their use measured 5.2 mg/PCU, and in Norway, which uses antimicrobial agents the least of all European nations, it was 3.1 mg/PCU.

In Spain, 70 percent of antimicrobial agents are mixed in feed, but no antimicrobial agents are mixed into the feed in Iceland. The majority of antimicrobial agents used in Iceland are given to livestock in case of illness, usually by injection, as advised by a veterinarian. Sales of injectable antimicrobial agents are the highest per animal in Croatia, followed by Italy and Spain. The least amount of such antimicrobial agents is sold in Norway, Iceland and Austria.

The heavy use of antimicrobial agents in European agriculture shows that words of warning by doctors, who have encouraged farmers to use them in smaller amounts, have been disregarded. Doctors have warned that as the use of antimicrobial agents for livestock goes up, the frequency of drug-resistant bacterial infections goes up. When such drug-resistant bacteria are carried to humans, then there is little doctors can do to help.

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