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What is FAO doing now?


When rinderpest was officially declared eradicated in 2011, FAO member countries agreed to maintain world freedom from rinderpest and approved the destruction or sequestration of all remaining rinderpest virus containing materials. Although rinderpest no longer occurs in livestock, the rinderpest virus-containing material is being stored in laboratories of 24 countries where it poses a risk through inadvertent or malicious release. FAO is leading the process of reducing the number of laboratories keeping the virus by advocating for and offering assistance to destroy or relocate it to highly secure FAO-OIE rinderpest holding facilities. 

In June 2012, a moratorium on handling the virus was issued after a FAO-OIE survey found that the virus continued to be held in more than 40 laboratories worldwide, often under inadequate levels of biosecurity and biosafety. Juan Lubroth, FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer, recalled ‘’FAO is committed to assisting countries in either destroying or securing any remaining rinderpest virus stocks held in laboratories to avoid any risks of their release into the natural environment.’’

In the same year, FAO and OIE signed an agreement establishing an external FAO-OIE Rinderpest Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) to provide scientific advice on rinderpest management and bio-security for the post-eradication era.  One of the responsibilities of JAC is to support FAO and OIE in reviewing applications from institutes wishing to become FAO-OIE rinderpest holding facility for the secure storage ‘sequestration’ of rinderpest virus. Another important responsibility is to review applications for research involving rinderpest virus. The objectives of the research proposal should aim to protect or improve food security, human and livestock health for local and worldwide populations.

Apart from its role with the JAC, FAO is maintaining global freedom from rinderpest through the following activities: