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One Health Day

November 3, 2016
Today, in recognition of One Health Day, I shared my thoughts with The Hill’s Congress Blog about the importance of recognizing the inextricable links between human health and the health of animals and the environment we share:
For centuries, humans have shared a bond with animals unlike any other – one so strong that it has been scientifically shown to improve the emotional and mental health of people who spend time with nature’s magnificent creatures.

Here in Washington, most elected officials are focused on creating a better future for their human constituents, so animal welfare concerns frequently get short shrift. This is a profound mistake, for the health and safety of humans and animals are intertwined.

As a state legislator in Pennsylvania, I passed laws to ban puppy mills and to allow high school students to dissect frogs virtually so fewer of the animals would be killed for their cadavers. As a member of Congress, I was approached by Jane Goodall during the AIDS epidemic about her concerns for chimpanzees being used in medical testing. I passed a bill to establish chimp sanctuaries in Louisiana where they could live in natural surroundings rather than being kept in cages.

These days, when I’m not on the clock as CEO of the world’s largest biotechnology trade association, I can often be found in a forest observing the majesty of our avian friends. I’m an avid birder and a board member of the National Audubon Society.

Today is One Health Day, when we affirm that the health of human beings is inextricably linked to the health of animals and the environment we share. This fundamental appreciation of biological connectedness underlies biotechnology research and product development.

The full piece may be found here.

Last week, I had a very special opportunity to experience and participate in an amazing application of animal biotechnology to reduce the risk of a deadly threat to human health – the Zika virus – by releasing “friendly mosquitos” in Piracicaba, Brazil, which were created by one of our member companies, Intrexon. These mosquitos were genetically engineered to breed out the invasive mosquito breed which carries the Zika virus. I didn’t have to worry about getting bitten, thankfully, as these GE mosquitos are all-male (only female mosquitos bite).


You can read more about GE mosquitos and find more information about the Zika virus and efforts to fight it by visiting