One of FAO's mandates is to assist developing countries in agricultural trade issues and, in particular, "in preparing for future multilateral trade negotiations in agriculture, fisheries and forestry, inter alia, through studies, analysis and training". The objective is to "ensure that developing countries are well-informed and equal partners in the (negotiating) process".
To this end, FAO, with the assistance of several donors, is mounting a worldwide programme of workshops addressed to developing countries to help them:
The workshops have highlighted the highly variable degree of understanding of the Uruguay Round Agreements by the country delegates. The Agreements, particularly the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), were generally perceived as presenting threats rather than opportunities. Few of the participants had an overview of the Agreements that did not pertain to their specific area of expertise. Furthermore, a lack of coordination at the national level of the involved ministries of WTO member countries was a general feature.
The experiences gained at the first series of workshops fully justify FAO's effort to promote the understanding of the Uruguary Round Agreements and, following the Seattle conference in November 1999, additional information is available through the FAO Geneva Liaison Office.
Further development of the PAAT Information System (PAAT-IS) includes predictive capability, e.g. anticipated benefits to be achieved from livestock increases following tsetse clearance. Although the model is still undergoing development, the predictions support the priority accorded to Ethiopia and show the potential in other countries such as the United Republic of Tanzania. High-quality data on tsetse and disease distributions are now urgently needed. A CD-ROM containing all the information will be produced and distributed after April 2000.
The Concerted Action on the Integrated Control of Pathogenic Trypanosomes and their Vectors runs for four years from July 1998 and will undertake much of the responsibility for the PAAT research and development module. A total of seven workshops will be organized, three of which have already taken place. Full details of the first workshop - on improved epidemiological methods, including diagnostics - held in Entebbe, Uganda, in October 1998 have been published in the first Integrated Control of Pathogenic Trypanosomes and their Vector (ICPTV) newsletter, which was distributed at the meeting of ISCTRC in Mombasa. The second workshop, on drug delivery and resistance in the context of integrated disease management, was held in Nairobi from 31 May to 4 June 1999. Guidelines developed during the workshop to assist in assessing trypanocidal drug resistance in the field are now being distributed to a larger group, including FAO liaison officers for comments and further refinement to render them appropriate for a wide variety of situations. The third workshop, on data management and decision support systems, including risk assessment and disease impact evaluation, was held in conjunction with the Regional Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Control Programme (RTTCP) in Harare, from 21 to 24 June 1999. The ICPTV e-mail forum, icptv-l, was used by the participants to discuss the issues. The recommendations and conclusions of both workshops will shortly be circulated more widely over the link e-mail forum (PAAT-L).
PAAT has undoubtedly made a contribution to the international debate on tsetse and trypanosomiasis control through PAAT-L, the coordinator network and associated meetings. As a result, there is a greater understanding of the disease's impact. Through workshops and discussion there is also a growing harmonization of policies, planning and strategies, and effective moves towards the standardization of technologies, for example, in diagnostics and tests for chemoresistance. This emerging consensus is best reflected in the PAAT Position Papers and it is hoped to publish more of these in the coming year. All these are contributing to PAAT's mission of concerted international action and improved disease management.
The fifth PAAT Committee Meeting took place at FAO headquarters, Rome, from 22 to 23 November 1999. More details about this meeting and many other past, present and future activities of PAAT can be obtained on the Internet at: www.fao.org/paat
The conference had 151 participants from more than 50 countries, among them 35 developing countries, as well as many international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities and research centres. Participant profile of the conference was as follows: researchers and extension workers (27 percent); teachers and lecturers (25 percent); staff of international organizations (19 percent); consultants and advisers (12 percent); programme coordinators (6 percent); students (4 percent); management/policy level (4 percent); and editors of scientific journals (3 percent). Among the subscribers, 41 participated actively, either through sending articles or making comments. This represents about 27 percent active participation, which is a high level, since values of about 20 percent or less are generally regarded as typical and acceptable.
The papers included one introductory paper, five lead papers from selected authors and 14 free communications. These initiated discussions: about 50 comments, observations, queries and replies were exchanged among participants, excluding the final remarks.
All papers and comments are available on the Internet at: www.fao.org/waicent/faoinfo/agricult/aga/agap/lps/fampo/fampo.htm
For more information, please contact Dr E. Fallou Guèye or Dr René D.S. Branckaert, FAO Animal Production and Health Division, Rome, Italy.
Predicting Rift Valley fever. Scientists from the North American Space Agency (NASA) use satellite images to help track a disease and keep it under surveillance (NASA Press Release 99-81). By applying weather satellites to spot the early signs of El Niño, scientists may be able to help save East Africans and their livestock from Rift Valley fever, a mosquito-borne disease that can be fatal to humans and animals. NASA and United States Department of Defence researchers have determined that rising sea-surface temperatures in the western Equatorial Indian Ocean, combined with El Niño in the Pacific, can lead to abnormally heavy rains in East Africa. These rains create a favourable habitat for the mosquitoes that carry the Rift Valley fever virus, spreading it to humans and animals. Researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, and the Department of Defence - Global Disease Infections System, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, DC, studied nearly five decades of data to produce these findings.
Eastern African Chief Veterinary Officers meet. Under an FAO Technical Cooper-ation Programme (TCP) project entitled Emergency Analysis and Control of Rift Valley Fever and other Vector-borne Diseases in Eastern Africa (TCP/RAF/8821), the chief veterinary officers (CVOs) of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, the Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda in Kampala, from 30 August to 3 September 1999.
The CVOs described and sought to rectify serious weaknesses in the control
or transboundary animal diseases (TAD) in the region and in preparedness
for animal disease emergencies. Major preoccupations were: (1) insufficient
recognition of the major contribution that livestock make to national economies,
food security and the welfare of rural communities, and the severe impact
that TAD have on these; and (2) the attrition of the central veterinary
executive authority by structural adjustment programmes that impose unqualified
decentralization of veterinary services. This is particularly acute in
eastern Africa. The CVOs endorsed the desirability and inevitability of
the restructuring process, which involves decentralization and privatization
of veterinary services. However, they expressed their grave concern that
the statutory/regulatory element, and especially the surveillance and progressive
control of TADs, had not been appropriately addressed in national policies
and some national and regional projects, which are being implemented by
international agencies and donors. FAO was requested to take the lead in
bringing these concerns to the attention of the World Bank, regional development
banks and other international agencies involved in livestock development,
by convening a specific meeting for this purpose and by employing the services
of the FAO Representatives in the countries concerned. FAO was requested
to provide support through the provision of guidelines and training in
these disciplines. Furthermore, the Organization of African Unity (OAU),
the Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (IBAR) and FAO were requested
to assist in establishing and implementing an eastern African commission
for the control of TAD in order to develop harmonized regional policies,
expertise and infrastructure and assist in the progressive control of TAD.
With regard to Rift Valley fever, national governments were advised to
strengthen national and regional capacity for the diagnosis, surveillance
and control of the disease, including the establishment of a regional early
warning system. The importance of support from FAO and donors was stressed.
Why are El Niño and La Niña so named?
El Niño is named after a Peruvian Christmas festival where the warming of the waters off Peru is said to occur near the birthday of "The Boy" (El Niño), or the Christ child. Meteorologists named the phenomenon the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The reverse phenomenon, the cooling of the eastern Pacific waters, was at first called "anti-El Niño", until it was realized that this literally meant the anti-Christ! To avoid this unfortunate connotation, it was renamed La Niña (or "The Girl").
For more information contact the GREP Secretariat at:
Fax: +39 06 57053023
and visit the GREP home page www.fao.org/empres/grep
Food prize for cattle saviour (extract from BBC news)
The World Food Prize - often described as the Nobel prize for food research - has been awarded to a scientist nominated by FAO whose work has helped save farmers worldwide from starvation and economic ruin.
British veterinary researcher Dr Walter Plowright developed a vaccine against rinderpest, the most lethal of cattle diseases. Thanks to Dr Plowright's work this disease is now largely under control and FAO is aiming to eradicate it entirely by the year 2010.
Over 1 500 years ago rinderpest emerged to take its toll on domesticated animals. It is the only animal disease credited with changing the course of history. A fragile virus that is spread by contact and nearly always fatal to cattle and hoofed animals, rinderpest was first recognized as a distinct plague (the cattle plague) in the late fourth century. During the following centuries, rinderpest has ravaged livestock populations in Europe and Asia, occurring as a by-product of every major military campaign that involved extensive cattle movements. In the eighteenth century, 200 million cattle were killed in Western Europe alone. This devastation was one of the major factors leading to the founding of veterinary science with the establishment of the first Veterinary School in Lyon, France, in 1762.
For further information on RADISCON contact Dr Abdelali Benkirane, Animal Health Officer (Bacteriology), Animal Production and Health Division, FAO, Rome. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
FAO is in the process of preparing a TCP project, entitled Emergency Control of Transboundary Diseases of Livestock in Southern and Eastern Europe, to cover bluetongue and other transboundary animal diseases.
Issues related to bluetongue and other priority infectious diseases of livestock and poultry in the region were also addressed by the first Balkan microbiology conference, Microbiologia Balkanica 1999, held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, from 5 to 9 October 1999, with the participation of speakers from the FAO Animal Health Service.