A unifying concept that underlies biotechnology research and product development is an appreciation of the oneness of living organisms at a molecular level. That same understanding of biological connectedness drives One Health.
The One Health approach is rooted in knowledge that the health of humans, animals and the environment are inextricably linked. Activities conducted under the banner of One Health seek to promote and protect the health and well-being of all species.
The concept of One Health is not new, but new life was breathed into this approach early in the 21st century by the fear of emerging zoonotic diseases with the potential for extensive mortality to humans and animals, including food animals. At the same time, biotechnology breakthroughs, such as whole genome sequencing and genetic engineering, provided unprecedented ability to address One Health challenges.
Biotechnology is a set of precise, yet flexible, tools for tackling the web of interconnected problems at the heart of One Health. The tools of biotechnology can advance One Health by contributing insights into the causes of health problems and tactics for addressing them.
With respect to animals, biotechnology applied to animals can mitigate risks to One Health by providing:
- Research tools that allow scientists to understand the biological underpinnings of health, disease and the linkages among organisms
- Methods to pinpoint the sources and causes of infectious diseases quickly and with unprecedented precision
- New therapeutics and vaccines for solving problems that threaten human and animal health
- Agricultural production tools that lessen environmental degradation and allow us to respond to environmental disruptions caused by climate change
However impediments unrelated to science and technology are preventing the realization of biotechnology’s potential. These economic, legal, political and perception issues must be addressed if society is to manage and reduce One Health risks.
The Animal Biotech Summit will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to begin the conversations that are required for removing these impediments to biotechnology development and attainment of One Health.