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Animal health and welfare, two cornerstones of sustainable, responsible and effective food production


Monique Eliot, director general of the OIE, leads a high-level panel discussion at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, in Berlin, 19 Jan 2018 (photo credit: BMEL/Inga Kjer/photothek).

Improved animal health and welfare standards do more than improve animal health and welfare, as important as those are. Applying such standards can increase food production in ways that also protect the environment and enhance the resilience of livestock producers and systems.

Any transition to more responsible and efficient livestock production models depends on nations implementing, and meeting, appropriate health and welfare standards. This is why equipping national officials and private businesses with the technical knowledge and resources to adapt global standards to local circumstances is so important.

This point was repeatedly raised by the keynote speakers at a high-level panel on the future of animal health and welfare organized by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as part of the tenth Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA), which was held in Berlin from 18 to 20 Jan 2018.

The GFFA is an international annual conference on the future of the global agri-food industry organized and hosted by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in cooperation with GFFA Berlin e.V., the Senate of Berlin and Messe Berlin GmbH. The annual forum gives representatives from the worlds of politics, business, science and civil society opportunities to share ideas and enhance understanding of topics shaping current agricultural policy.

This year’s forum addressed issues on
Shaping the Future of Livestock—Sustainably, Responsibly, Efficiently.

Live drawing at the OIE High-Level Panel at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, Berlin, 19 Jan 2018 (photo credit: BMEL/Inga Kjer/photothek).

Opening the panel event—Animal health and welfare: Two cornerstones for the future of globally diversified livestock production’—Monique Eloit, director general of the OIE, highlighted the centrality of livestock production to the livelihoods of 750 million of world’s poorest people. Every year up to 20% of the world’s livestock production is lost to animal diseases, she said. Resilient animal health systems that are able to prevent and control animal diseases are needed more than ever, Eloit said.

Our societies are calling for a world where the welfare of animals is respected, promoted and advanced in ways that meet the requirements of sustainability, climate stewardship and economic efficiency. With rising populations and growing urbanization, the livestock sector is critical to producing nutritious foods.
—Monique Eliot, OIE

In an increasingly interdependent world, disease management is vital, speaker after speaker underlined. The nature of infectious diseases requires cooperation across borders, they said. But compliance with disease control regulations is a challenge for many governments and businesses. In 2017, for example, 300 new trade measures related to animal health were introduced worldwide.

‘Trade in animals is worth USD156 billion a year’, said Christiane Wolff, counsellor in the Agriculture and Commodities Division of the World Trade Organization. ‘But diseases can be transmitted through trade, and measures to ensure trade is safe also restrict that trade. Compliance challenges take the form of such requirements as setting up certification schemes and learning new knowledge.’ Wolff argued that disease control regulations should be based on scientific evidence and harmonized as much as possible to keep compliance-related costs to a minimum. And developing countries will need to increase their capacities in managing livestock disease, she warned, if they want to continue engaging the rules-based systems of industrialized countries.

‘Increased cooperation and support is essential to human and animal health and well-being in the Sahel region’, explained Maty Ba Diao, coordinator of the Regional Support Project for Pastoralism in the Sahel (Projet Régional d’Appui au Pastoralisme au Sahel) (PRAPS) at the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel, which is based in Burkina Faso. PRAPS receives funding from the World Bank to strengthen the provision of veterinary services in four countries in the Sahel region: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Senegal. The project places a special emphasis on provision of local animal health services, particularly training people to deliver services locally and farmers to better control diseases.

Animal health and welfare are important for farmers to be able to produce more, higher quality food. When we speak of small ruminant diseases, we are speaking of diseases that affect people. Reducing the impact of these animal diseases frees up people, often women, to produce more, to generate greater incomes and to feed their families better.
—Maty Ba Diao, PRAPS

Other speakers at OIE’s high-level panel included: Vytenis Andriukaiti, European Union Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; Javier Ernesto Suárez Hurtad, executive director general of Bolivia’s National Service for Agricultural Health and Food Safety; Christianne Bruschke, chief veterinary officer in the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality; Vladimir Olegovich Rakhmanin, assistant director general and regional representative for Europe and Central Asia at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Martin Cooke, head of corporate engagement at World Animal Protection; and Ben Dellaert, chairman of the International Egg Commission.

Watch the whole of this GFFA high-level panel: Animal health and welfare—Two cornerstones for the future of globally diversified livestock production, 19 Jan 2018.

This article is part of a series that ILRI is producing about the livestock discussions held at Germany’s Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, in Berlin, 18–20 Jan 2018, and the participation of ILRI and its partners in this year’s forum, titled ‘Shaping the Future of Livestock—Sustainably, Responsibly, Efficiently’.

View ILRI images of the GFFA here and GFFA images here.

Watch a 3-minute animated video produced by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture to kick off the GFFA.

Read news clippings about the GFFA

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