African swine fever is surging around the world, putting animals and the agriculture industry at great risk. The biotech industry has developed solutions that could put a stop to the deadly disease—but we need to modernize animal biotech regulation in order for it to have an impact.
Germany has confirmed 29 cases of African swine fever in wild boars,reports Reuters.
No farm animals have been infected (yet), according to Germany’s federal agriculture ministry—but it’s risky, because “more cases in wild boars are to be expected as the animals move around in groups and the disease is easily transferable.”
Germany’s not the only country battling the disease. In July, African swine fever was “surging in some parts of southern China following heavy rains,” reported Reuters, causing China’s hog herd to shrink by 180 million pigs (40%).
It doesn’t affect human health, but it’s fatal for pigs—and the agriculture industry. A recent Iowa State University study estimated that an African swine fever outbreak in the United States could cost $50 billion.
Genetic innovation could help prevent and respond to infectious disease, by making pigs resistant to African swine fever, as just one example.
But animal biotech regulation needs modernization. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) current regulatory structure puts an entirely new generation of technology at risk, and threatens to drive research, jobs, and innovation overseas.
What should we do?BIO has called for two things: establishment of a national One Health framework to eliminate the barriers between human, animal, and environmental health strategies, and legislation directing the FDA and Agriculture Department to work together to streamline oversight of animal biotech innovation.
Read more about how One Health can help us prevent and respond to zoonotic disease outbreaks—like African swine fever, and COVID-19.