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FAO launches Uruguay Round training

The Uruguay Round Agreements present opportunities as well as challenges for all World Trade Organization (WTO) members to benefit from improved multilateral trade rules and access to markets. With regard to agriculture specifically, the Uruguay Round brought this sector under a new set of multilateral rules and disciplines covering market access, domestic support and export subsidies. It also launched a reform process with the long-term objective of achieving a substantial progressive reduction in support and protection in this sector and of establishing a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system. To benefit fully from the Uruguay Round Agreements, most countries, and particularly developing countries, need to strengthen their understanding of the implications of the Agreements for their economies (particularly the agricultural sector) so as to adjust to the new trade environment. This will enable them to take advantage of the new trading opportunities and be adequately prepared for, as well as participate effectively in, further multilateral trade negotiations for the continuation of the reform process in agriculture.

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:

Fourteen subregional workshops are being organized: four in Africa; three in Asia; two in the Near East; three in Latin America; and two in Europe. Three workshops have recently been conducted, one each in Cairo, Dakar and Prague. A CD-ROM of the workshop material is in preparation and the material will be made available on the FAO Web site in the first quarter of 2000.

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.

Programme Against African Trypanosomiasis (PAAT)

Many members of the PAAT community have just returned from a very enjoyable and successful series of meetings in Mombasa, Kenya. From 23 to 24 September 1999 a meeting of the PAAT Advisory Group Coordinators was held in conjunction with the 25th Jubilee Conference of the International Scientific Committee for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control (ISCTRC). Following are the key recommendations arising from the meeting:

During the Advisory Group meeting, a special session on the economic analysis of tsetse and trypanosomiasis research and development from 1980 was presented by Leonard Budd. This study, by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID), and other internationally supported research was carried out by the United Kingdom's Livestock Production and Animal Health Research Programmes as part of their development of future policy. The total losses to agricultural production alone as a result of trypanosomiasis in Africa were estimated to be US$4.5 billion per year. The report suggests that an investment of $20 billion over a 20-year period would virtually eradicate tsetse from the continent and that benefits totalling US$50 billion would accrue from it over the same period. The final report will be published later this year and will be available from: The Project Management Office, Livestock Production Programme, Natural Resources International Ltd, PO Box 258, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4PU, United Kingdom.

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

First INFPD/FAO Electronic Conference on Family Poultry

As decided by the General Meeting of the International Network for Family Poultry Development (INFPD) held in 1997 in M'Bour, Senegal, the first INFPD/FAO Electronic Conference on Family Poultry ran from 7 December 1998 to 5 March 1999. However, because of the great interest of subscribers and their active participation, the conference was extended until 22 July 1999. Its general theme was the scope and effect of family poultry research and development. The objectives were to: a) collect information related to all aspects of family poultry production systems from various parts of the world; b) disseminate available information for discussion among participants; c) identify where information is currently missing and set an agenda of priorities for research and development; d) investigate approaches, methods and tools that could contribute to identifying, at farm level, the most relevant family poultry farming systems. The production systems identified could then be disseminated in the areas where they are most appropriate.

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.

E-mail: fallou.gueye@fao.org;

rene.branckaert@fao.org

Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES)

Rift Valley fever

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").

Rinderpest

The Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP). To promote the intensification phase of GREP, the Secretariat in Rome is producing a series of promotional materials. These are intended to raise awareness of the issues among national decision-makers and donors and also to provide some technical support for grassroot workers in recognizing rinderpest as it is seen today in the final stages of the eradication process. Already available are a video film, a set of four posters and an information leaflet which explains the main issues involved in the elimination of the last remaining foci. A new global version of the field manual Recognizing rinderpest and a set of disease recognition cards to be used in village searches for rinderpest will be available soon.

For more information contact the GREP Secretariat at:

E-mail: empres-livestock@fao.org

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.

Regional Animal Disease and Surveillance Control Network (RADISCON )

National Animal Disease Surveillance Systems. A RADISCON workshop for the Establishment of the National Animal Disease Surveillance System in Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates was organized in collaboration with the Department of Animal Resources in Riyadh, from 2 to 6 May 1999. In addition to the RADISCON National Liaison Officer (NLO) of Saudi Arabia, nine participants from the host country, four from Oman and two from the United Arab Emirates attended the workshop. This is the first time that the United Arab Emirates has taken part in a RADISCON activity since the start of the project's implementation in June 1996. It is hoped that this will be followed by the nomination of an NLO for the United Arab Emirates.

For further information on RADISCON contact Dr Abdelali Benkirane, Animal Health Officer (Bacteriology), Animal Production and Health Division, FAO, Rome. E-mail: abdelali.benkirane@fao.org

Internet: www.fao.org/Waicent/FaoInfo/Agricult/AGA/AGAH/ID/Radiscon/Default.htm

Current epizootical situation and control of bluetongue and other exotic diseases

Outbreaks of bluetongue were reported from the Burgas, Yambol and Sliven regions of Bulgaria in July 1999, affecting 42 villages, and later from three villages in the Edirne region of Turkey, as well as from Évros and Rhodopi prefectures in Greece. In cooperation with FAO's Animal Health Service, the European Union (EU), the International Office of Epizootics (OIE) and the Institute of Animal Health (IAH), the first coordinating meeting took place in Burgas on 4 August 1999, with the participation of veterinary officers from Bulgaria and Greece. A tripartite group meeting with the participation of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey was held in Athens on 13 October 1999, organized by the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EUFMD) and, in addition to foot-and-mouth disease control, the situation of bluetongue in the region was reviewed and discussed by veterinary officers of the three countries concerned.

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.

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