Mar 2, 2022

How agriculture sector is transitioning to One Health approach

By Joyce Turk and Dan Gustafson, GOHi External Advisory Board members

The positive and negative interactions between and among the human, agricultural and environmental sectors are influenced by externalities. These include, but are not limited to, standards and regulations, economic policies, climate change, pandemics, population increase and socio-cultural conflicts. Increasing awareness of, and greater attention to, the complicated links between human and agricultural systems has led to greater support for adopting One Health principles, thus promoting the agriculture sector’s transition to this approach.

To maintain an adequate food supply, it is necessary to balance the demands of environmental services versus increased food production. Changes to the current agricultural production of consumable commodities require improved food and feed handling, processing and storage (commercial and household). But increasing food insecurity in lower-income countries also commands greater focus on the weak, or nonexistent, yet critical food safety standards and regulations that severely limit a smoother transition to One Health.

Changes being made

One example of the transition is the development of U.S. One Health Certified™. The new universally comprehensive animal care program establishes verified animal production practices in five core areas: disease prevention, veterinary care, responsible antibiotic use, animal welfare and environmental impacts.

Developed by a coalition of technical experts from animal agriculture, non-profit organizations and universities, this program verifies responsible animal care practices currently for turkeys and chickens, while standards for additional animal source foods are being developed. Other codes and standards already exist for dairy products as well as beef, veal and pork, primarily in developed countries.

In addition to certifications, improved policy options are needed that address market-based measures which aim for market prices that internalize environmental costs and benefits of systems. These policies should include all externalities so that farmers’ investment and production decisions are environmentally friendly.