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World Livestock 2013: Changing disease landscapes


Most of the new diseases that have emerged in humans over recent decades are of animal origin and are related to the human quest for more animal-source food. The report World Livestock 2013: Changing Disease Landscapes examines the reasons behind this development and suggests ways of addressing the situation.

The publication is divided into three sections, which correspond to a three-tiered Pressure-State-Response framework.


The authors explore the disease drivers, or the economic and social developments (e.g. exponential human growth, expanding demand for animal food products among the growing middle-income class across the globe, increased urbanization, etc.) that exert pressure on the earth’s natural resources.


This section reveals the connections between these pressures and the emerging animal-to-human pathogen shift, including the links between disease and rapid livestock intensification, land pressure, globalization and climate change. The disease dynamics described are an indication of instability or reduced agro-ecological and social resilience, leading to disease emergence, spread and persistence, affecting humans, animals and ecosystems.


The third section of the document outlines the way in which society can respond to these changes. The authors identify the need for risk assessment of the global context in order to analyse how human behavior changes the availability, use and management of the natural resource base, transforms food and agriculture, and drives socio-economic development. The publication calls for the implementation of cohesive and concerted global efforts towards health protection policies and strategies for sustainable development, with reference to the global One Health approach. In order to meet the food requirements of the growing global population, there is a need for the development of sustainable agricultural food systems that minimize the risk of emerging disease while protecting human health and conserving biodiversity and the environment.

Illustrated with numerous photographs and around 50 maps, graphs, tables and information boxes, the 2013 publication follows on from the first in the series, World Livestock 2011: Livestock in food security (FAO, 2011). In the accompanying video, the contents of the report are further elaborated through interviews with FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Juan Lubroth and FAO Chief Livestock Information, Sector Analysis and Policy Branch Dr Henning Steinfeld.

World Livestock 2013: Changing Disease Landscapes is FAO's call to establish increased cooperation and dialogue amongst all stakeholders, from decision-makers within government, civil society and the private sector to research institutions and academia, in order to respond to the new demands made on livestock in a globalized world. As the complexities of disease landscapes escalate in particular in areas afflicted by poverty and animal diseases, this report brings innovative perspectives to addressing disease at its source. It demonstrates the need for society-wide action and for major institutional and policy support at local and global levels in order to enhance a One Health approach to disease risk management spanning animal, human and environmental health sectors.