As a country that exports nearly 90% of its total agriculture produce, Australia is in a very fortunate position. Due to our high quarantine levels and ability to keep exotic diseases such as foot and mouth disease (FMD), Avian Influenza and Swine Fever at bay, countries that import agriculture produce from Australia know that we have strong disease control. In short, we can be trusted to meet the high standards of quality required.
Many other countries are not so fortunate. For countries that struggle with disease control, major problems can occur for their current and potential export markets, not to mention the damaging effects on their domestic markets.
Problems affecting the world today
Recently (Philippines imposes restrictions on African cattle) the Philippines felt it had to impose restrictions on African cattle and ban pork products from South China, both due to FMD (Philippines fears spread of foot and mouth disease). One can understand this reaction, however in the EU they are taking a different approach.
An approach that I feel has a lot more potential.
The EU and disease control
EU countries aren’t turning their backs on developing countries; they are instead offering assistance in the form of medication. Algeria and Tunisia are recent beneficiaries of this approach, having received vaccines to control FMD inside their borders (EU ships vaccines to halt foot-and-mouth in Algeria and Tunisia).
South Korea is also having to combat FMD and has been managing the outbreak since December 2014 (South Korea Imports New Vaccine after FMD Outbreaks). The South Korean Government have taken steps to control this disease by procuring 6.8 million doses of a new FMD vaccine, called “O1 manaisa +A+Asia 1”, and administering it to all producers who are, or who could be, potentially affected.
The Gates Foundation and other organizational assistance
This is just a small example of what is occurring across the globe in more and more countries, which has drawn the attention and focus of the Gates Foundation. This organization is now getting involved in helping third-world countries reduce disease and thus increase the productivity of their livestock – some African countries are losing 25% of productivity through disease (Gates Foundation’s animal health initiative grows IFAH partnership).
There is a distinct need for global groups and countries, who need quality supply, to get involved in disease control by assisting with outbreaks of exotic diseases. Doing so will ensure a more secure and viable food source for the growing population. Not to mention a more profitable and reliable industry.
Assistance should not only focus on vaccinations as there are other aspects which need to be monitored and controlled. One such example is the issue of small family-based herds, which in most third world and developing countries goes unchecked. Large production based farms already have a level of quarantine, due to the regulations with which they must comply to, but this can be compromised by these smaller herds spreading disease to different farms.
With limited funding and resources available to many of these countries, and most of the focus put into meeting basic requirements and the desired output, this is not an easy challenge to overcome without outside help or game-changing solutions.
Innovation and cooperation
There is no question that developed countries are reliant on the import of a safe and quality product from developing countries, just as those countries are dependent on exporting. It seems to me that innovation and cooperation are the key to finding more effective disease control solutions. Solutions that work for all.
We need to ensure that the discussion continues and that solutions are conceived for the reality of an interconnected global industry/marketplace.
– David Edwards