Ongoing project funded to link tactical science to biosecurity

University of Minnesota researchers awarded $1m to develop strategies to protect animals during disease outbreaks.

June 1, 2020

2 Min Read
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The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine’s (CVM) Secure Food System (SFS) team received $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute for Food & Agriculture Agriculture & Food Research Initiative (AFRI) for the team’s proposed work involving tactical sciences for agricultural biosecurity.

American agriculture uses a just-in-time delivery model where an egg laid or loin harvested today may be on store shelves tomorrow, CVM said. When outbreaks happen, movements — including those from uninfected farms — may be stopped to prevent disease spread. However, the collateral damage from stopping agricultural product movements may be a larger threat to animal welfare, the food supply, social stability and rural economic viability than the disease itself, the university said.

Over the next three years, a team of CVM scientists led by Drs. Carol Cardona, Cesar Corzo, Marie Culhane and Tim Goldsmith, will address new movements, pathogens and approaches following these objectives:

  • Assess the risk of animal movements and their agricultural products during an outbreak and translate the risk-based science into workable movement permit guidance;

  • Develop tactical strategies to limit foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak spread in integrated agriculture systems; and

  • Conduct outreach on emergency preparedness and the SFS platform.

This AFRI program area has long aimed to narrow gaps in food and agricultural defenses and to increase national capacity to prevent, rapidly detect and respond to biological threats to the U.S. food system, the university said. In fact, in April, AFRI added funding opportunities for rapid response to the novel coronavirus.

This project at the University of Minnesota was proposed in September 2019, and sets out to expand upon the already-proven SFS approach, which prevents damage while maintaining food production and access to markets by clarifying infection pathways and developing practical biosecurity measures to mitigate those infection risks, according to the announcement.

In 2015, 2016 and 2017, the SFS strategy was successfully used for poultry-to-market movements during the H5 avian influenza outbreaks because producers and regulators followed the proactively developed guidance in the Secure Poultry Supply plan. In addition, the approach uses scientifically sound disease detection strategies to support risk-based permitted animal and agricultural product movements from uninfected production premises within outbreak control areas, the university explained.

This work will result in several proactive risk assessments — key components of preparedness planning — and will provide the scientific basis needed to make live animal and animal product movements during an outbreak. The team behind this project unites scientific colleagues and industry experts with relevant expertise, providing scientifically sound risk-based biosecurity guidance to producers and decision-makers to help prevent infections and limit the size of outbreaks.

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