White House updates national biodefense strategyWhite House updates national biodefense strategy
Plan calls for disease-resistant plants and animals and strengthens ability to detect and prevent the spread of diseases.
September 19, 2018
President Donald Trump launched a new National Biodefense Strategy to more effectively prepare for and combat biological threats that includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture playing an active role in protecting animal and human health as well as preserving the agriculture industry, which serves as an important part of the nation’s economy.
The biodefense national security presidential memorandum names Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar as the federal lead for biodefense and establishes a Cabinet-level Biodefense Steering Committee.
“One of USDA’s core responsibilities is ensuring the safety of America’s food supply. Our nation’s agriculture and food systems are vulnerable to disease, pest or poisonous agents that can occur naturally or be introduced. Preparing for these threats is a critical aspect to national security, but such an effort requires a collaborative approach such as that set forth by President Trump’s National Biodefense Strategy — an approach that not only sets the course for the U.S. to combat the real and serious 21st-century bio-threats our country faces but also emphasizes the vital role USDA maintains in safeguarding our nation’s farmers and the agricultural system,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “USDA is proud to play a key role in this new strategy, and we look forward to working with our partners to implement this coordinated effort.”
The framework recognizes that a multidisciplinary approach will help prevent disease emergence. The health of people, animals, plants and the environment are linked, and diseases affecting one component can soon affect others.
At least 75% of infectious disease threats to human health are of animal origin. Threats to animals and plants can cause economic disruption and physical harm to health and well-being. “A coordinated, multidisciplinary approach, representing the collaborative efforts across local, national and global jurisdictions, is a best practice for understanding, communicating and mitigating biological threats swiftly and efficiently. Such an approach is necessary to prevent and detect early inter-species crossover of infectious diseases,” the strategy said.
Specifically, the plan supports the development and deployment of diagnostics and countermeasures for use in animals as well as the development of disease-resistant animals. It also looks to strengthen capacity to detect and prevent the spread of animal and zoonotic diseases.
On the plant side, it calls for strengthening the capacity to prevent establishment and spread of plant pests as well as supporting the development and deployment of new disease-resistant crops. It also calls for a strengthened international partnership regarding the detection and management of plant diseases before they reach the U.S.
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