Feed Bussiness Worldwide: August 2015
Animal health goes mainstream
by Eric J. BROOKS
Animal health, a topic which once only interested agribusiness insiders, is now receiving increasing mainstream consumer attention – and pressure. Like viruses can jump from livestock to humans, the animal health crises are leaping from industry articles like this and into the mainstream press.
That is because after years of occasional warnings about antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) and reports of viruses jumping from chickens to people, market signals are now transmitting the same message to consumers.
In everything from sky-high Asian pork prices (due to PEDv) to a two-month, 100% jump in the cost of US eggs (due to bird flu) to food poisoning incidents caused by AGP resistant bacteria, consumers, long used to hearing about rising antibiotic resistance, are watching livestock health issues directly impact their wallets and amplify their fears.
China's 2008 milk-in-melamine scandal. Successive US food poisoning scandals involving meat tainted with antibiotic resistant bacteria. Banned Vietnamese sea food tainted with banned feed additives. One US fast food chain after another voluntarily phases out AGPs from its beef and chicken. An eight year ban on Thai chicken following its bird flu outbreak. Such headlines are creating a large window of public input into the question of livestock health which it never had before.
Even America's current bird flu outbreak is merely one of a dozen, all of them portrayed as a threat to both human and animal health since the first scare in Hong Kong in 1997. Coming less than two years after its swine sector's PEDv epidemic, it is the latest of countless livestock health issues given global media coverage over the last 15 years. From a consumer marketing perspective, a steady diet of such news is bad for business.
Partly because the industry is at the mercy of consumers and export-driven than ever before, partly because we understand better now the link between human and animal disease, livestock health issues have placed agribusiness in a paradoxical situation.
Consumer activists and mass media frequently portray agribusiness as an unsustainable threat to human health. But if truth be known, animal borne diseases have always been around. While the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 35 Americans a day die from antibiotic resistant infections, the rise of integrators coincided with the eradication of diseases like anthrax and tuberculosis from rural communities.
The full article is published on the August 2015 issue of FEED Business Worldwide. To read the full report, please email to inquiry@efeedlink.com to request for a complimentary copy of the magazine, indicating your name, mailing address and title of the report.
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