The objective of the workshop was to illuminate issues, not to resolve them. By its nature, any single workshop is necessarily incomplete, and a workshop summary can report only on what was said. All the information reported in the text emerged from presentations and discussions during the workshop. The summary of the workshop is intended to reflect the variety of opinions expressed by the speakers. All of the contributors have reviewed the document and affirmed that the report accurately reflects the events and discussions at the workshop.
Concern about animal health has been building for decades and is now at a historic high, particularly in developed countries, Dr. Harley W. Moon of Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine told the gathering. The recognition of the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in farm animals led to increased food safety concern and was followed by a focus on food-borne illness. This issue peaked as the BSE epidemic had international impact in the 1980s and 1990s, and culminated with the 2001 outbreak of FMD in Great Britain. “Then, with the events of last fall, the issue of terrorism changed from a theoretical abstract possibility to a real-time threat. These decades of increasing concern certainly indicate that it is time to look at needs and opportunities to make further progress addressing these issues in animal health.”
Deputy Secretary James R. Moseley of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) underscored the impact of the events of September 11th, saying that it added “a new dimension on work long underway in animal disease.” Animal disease and food safety systems now require consideration of both intentional and accidental incidents, and these issues were raised to the highest priority of both the USDA and the Office of Homeland Security.
“The continued safety and integrity of our food and agriculture production systems have now become the highest priority,” said Moseley. The department is now much more alert to the possibility of intentional introduction of animal diseases and threats to the safety of the food supply. USDA is beefing up security at research facilities and laboratories, particularly the federal government’s five biosecurity level-3 labs. This includes more restrictions on access to anthrax and other biologic pathogens and closer scrutiny at ports of entry and food processing plants.
Building on the joint U.S. and British efforts to combat the U.K. FMD epidemic last spring and summer that “placed attention on the core infrastructure