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Book chapter - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Antimicrobial resistance in Scandinavia after termination of antimicrobials for growth promotion

Wierup, Martin; Bengtsson, Björn


In the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden), antimicrobial growth promoters (AGP) were gradually introduced during the 1960s for use in chicken, beef and pig production. In the early 1970s there were doubts in Sweden about the growth-promoting effect in calves (Johnson and Jacobsson, 1973). The risk of antibiotic resistance was also discovered (Wierup et al., 1975). As a result, the use of AGP in calf and beef production had more or less come to an end before 1986, when all use of AGP was banned. All antimicrobials were then re-classified as veterinary medicines in Sweden and were available only by veterinary prescription. About ten years later, when the risks of antibiotic resistance were increasingly apparent in other countries and in the EU, AGP were gradually removed in the other Scandinavian countries too (Grave et al., 2006). These precautionary actions taken by the Scandinavian countries were a major incentive in the EU and internationally for a focus on the use of antibiotics and in particular AGP. A WHO risk assessment on the use of antimicrobials in food animals identified areas of concern in 1997 (WHO, 1997). Later, the WHO published global principles and strategies for the containment of antimicrobial resistance (WHO, 2000; WHO 2001a), as well as on monitoring the use of antimicrobials in food animals for the protection of human health (WHO, 2001b). In the EU, the Scientific Steering Committee of the European Commission (1999) adopted an opinion and recommendations on antimicrobial resistance, with special focus on the usage of antimicrobials for growth promotion, which resulted in the EU ban from July 1 1999 on the use of bacitracin, avoparcin, spiramycin, tylosin and virginiamycin as AGP. A total EU ban on the use of all antibiotics for growth promotion was introduced in 2006. The OIE and individual countries and organisations also focused on the subject. This chapter describes the usage of antimicrobials and the resistance pattern following the ban on AGP in the Scandinavian countries.

Published in

Ecosystem Health and Sustainable Agriculture
2012, number: 2, pages: 222-227
Book title: Ecology and Animal Health
eISBN: 978-91-86189-12-9
Publisher: Baltic University Press

Authors' information

Bengtsson, Björn
National Veterinary Institute (SVA)

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Veterinary Science

URI (permanent link to this page)