ST. PAUL, Minn. – Attendees to the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s symposium, Protecting the Global Food Supply: Growing Concerns for Emerging Zoonotic Diseases, were left with a key message: We must strengthen animal and human health together.
The symposium, held in conjunction with the 2005 institute’s annual meeting, focused on the importance of animal agriculture’s role in safeguarding international health, for domestic animals, wildlife and humans.
Greater link. “There is a need for linkages to veterinarians, medical doctors – all health sectors,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and associate director for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Center for Food Protection and Defense at the University of Minnesota.
“[Animal agriculture is] the traffic controller, at the interface for the future.”
Osterholm provided insight into key diseases that have high zoonotic, or transmissible to humans, implications such as influenza.
More is needed. Additionally, he challenged leaders to take a more aggressive role in diseases that have great social and economic implications.
“You (animal agriculture) still have to fight the uphill battle,” said Osterholm, “providing a road for the future.”
Global issues. Other presentations throughout the day addressed key issues, such as the importance for international coordination and the increasing importance of the World Animal Health Organization (OIE).
Participants also discussed the need for more science-based standards worldwide, and the importance of communication throughout the world from technicians to the general public.
“Unless we build walls around our border, we rely on the national services of other countries,” said Kevin Walker, director of the Agricultural Health and Food Safety Directorate at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture.
“It’s in our best interest that we be strong.”
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