More animal health solutions needed for a climate-ready future

Brussels, 6 June 2017 – There is an urgent need for innovation-driven policies as well as wider acceptance and uptake of modern technologies in many areas for Europe’s agricultural sector to be able to adjust to the challenges of climate change.
Speaking at the 3rd European climate change adaptation conference, taking place in Glasgow (Scotland) this week, IFAH-Europe Secretary General said, “European agriculture is striving to meet with UN Sustainable Development goals for more sustainable production methods while facing the enormous challenge of adapting to increased climate variability and more extreme weather. Along with this, farmers are having to deal with the impacts of new animal disease outbreaks with milder climates seeing a wider geographical expansion of vector-borne disease and more humid environments escalating the spread of disease.”
Recent disease outbreaks such as the H5N8 avian influenza strain which spread across several EU member states this past year, or the emergence of lumpy skin disease and African swine fever in recent years serve as a stark reminder of the impacts of a changing climate. Now reported as recently contained by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) following mass vaccination of cattle in south eastern Europe, lumpy skin disease (LSD) was first detected in Greece in 2015, and in 2016 led to the culling of around 6000 animals in the country. With these outbreaks, the importance of animal disease control and the availability of preventive tools and control measures comes to the fore, along with the importance of monitoring disease occurrence.
“Climate change affects us all, and it may lead to Europe seeing more diseases – new to both us and our animals – than ever before. When it comes to animal health, it is essential that both the political and business environment are conducive to innovation, with a framework that allows for resources to be invested in more R&D. By facilitating the uptake of modern technologies and streamlining current authorisation processes, new medicines may be developed and existing medicines may be improved to fill the gaps in disease prevention and treatment solutions for animals that do not exist at present or are not available in certain countries. By putting in place more efficient procedures to authorise medicines in exceptional situations, this can also allow for greater preparedness in the case of new or recurring disease outbreaks. By keeping animals healthy we can help to ensure a safe and sustainable food supply, protect people from foodborne illnesses and zoonotic diseases, and enable farmers to produce more food with less natural resource input and less waste output, helping to reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment,” concluded Ms. Feller.