SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

FAO reports emerging diseases increasingly sourced from food

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a report on Monday that stated population growth, global food supply companies and expansion of agriculture have changed the epidemiology of disease today.

The report, entitled World Livestock 2013: Changing Disease Landscapes, found that seventy percent of diseases that have emerged within the past few decades are animal-sourced and have increased proportionately to the demand for more animal-sourced food.

The report argues that the world needs to take a new, more holistic method that addresses the serious threat of animal-associated diseases. Developing nations in particular are at a higher risk of spreading livestock, zoonotic and human-transmitted diseases.

While developing countries may be at a higher risk of spreading disease, the FAO report stated that all countries are at risk. The diseases threaten food security, the health of the public and the economies of all countries around the world.

Aside from agricultural practices, globalization and climate change have also played a role in emerging disease. The entire epidemiology of some diseases has changed as a result of globalization and climate change, changing the way the health sector must address and fight global epidemics.

"What this means is that we cannot deal with human health, animal health, and ecosystem health in isolation from each other - we have to look at them together, and address the drivers of disease emergence, persistence and spread, rather than simply fighting back against diseases after they emerge," FAO Assistant Director-General for Agriculture and Consumer Protection Ren Wang said.