Expert opinion

Storm in a teacup: The ionophore coccidiostats debate

Ionophore coccidiostats tend to cause a stir. Some expect that they will soon cease to be feed additives, while others believe they will at least remain available through the vet. Still others expect that it will be completely over for ionophores soon. Each of them have valid points for his or her views, but many of them also have vested interests. Suppliers of coccidiostats, manufacturers of coccidiosis vaccines and vets as well.

Ionophore coccidiostats are not only widely used in broiler farming, but they also help to control coccidiosis and keep a flock healthy. A potential limitation of their use will obviously cause unrest for many broiler farmers. After all, not being able to do without them, is a politically void argument. Moreover, there will always be examples that doing without ionophore coccidiostats is in fact possible. In the United States and Norway, ionophores are hardly ever used. That does not always work out.

If you dissect the current discussion on coccidiostats in Europe, you can only reach one conclusion: it is a storm in a teacup. The EU wants to maintain the use of coccidiostats as feed additives, for the simple reason that there is no pressing reason to decide otherwise, which is for example the case for antibiotics that cause resistance. Pros and cons in the coccidiostat discussion have little to do with the legislative process and mainly come from industry stakeholders.