FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation

Livestock of the future: a zoonoses-free world



On 30 November – 1 December, with the assistance of the FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation, MSD Animal Health hosted the "Livestock of the future" educational programme, in partnership with the "Agroinvestor" periodical and the Healthcare Development Centre at the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo (MSM).  

Renowned experts in the field and an audience representing leading Russian livestock enterprises discussed a range of topics, namely: One Health approach, production efficiency as well as innovations in modern livestock farming and current issues and trends in poultry, pig, and dairy husbandry. 

Oleg Kobiakov, Director of the FAO Moscow Office, took the floor together with Marina Veldanova, Director of the MSM Healthcare Centre, as co-moderator of the panel discussions on "Zoonoses – a twenty-first-century challenge" and "Antimicrobial resistance – the issue and possible solutions". In his opening remarks, Mr Kobiakov expressed confidence that the two-day forum would provide a platform for "a rich interactive exchange of views", a lot of valuable insights, including "best practices", and ultimately "would contribute to strengthening animal breeding in Russia, raising the level of Russian veterinary science and intensifying international cooperation in this field."

"Being the largest intergovernmental organization in agriculture, FAO could not stay away from the conference on "Livestock of the future". For that reason we eagerly supported this forum and made our worthy contribution to the organization of its two sections," said the FAO Moscow Office Head.

"There are no winners in the historic dispute over the two oldest domains of human activity – livestock husbandry and agriculture – but there are different opinions on which of them makes a decisive contribution to food security in developed countries and to the fight against hunger where it has not yet been eradicated. But as crop production contributes to generating feed supplies for livestock, considering growing prosperity and changing eating habits, your industry is playing an increasingly significant role in meeting the most important human need – healthy, good, and high-quality nutrition. 

Together with the organizers of the forum, we have done our best to bring together leading experts, representatives of the agricultural sector, academia, industry associations, practitioners and scientists. We invite you to use the rostra of the "Skolkovo format", not only to exchange data and knowledge but also to get inspired and apply this in your practical activities.

Our first section is dedicated to zoonoses. The COVID-19 pandemic has once again highlighted the interconnections in our world, in all of its main environments: human, animal, and wildlife. The experience of the past decades shows that over 90 percent of human epidemic diseases have been generated in nature. It should be recalled that highly pathogenic avian influenza, Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers, acquired human immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), SARS and also COVID-19 are of animal origin.  

Zoonoses are currently listed among the gravest threats to humanity. Over the past two years, due to the coronavirus pandemic, they have largely determined the life tempo of all countries and peoples. It concerns all of us and, therefore, the need to disseminate correct information at expert and social levels imposes a special responsibility on professionals. We must transmit objective knowledge and bring it to decision-makers, policy-makers and health and veterinary professionals. 

I am deeply convinced that human reasoning, our great intellectual potential, our unity and determination will help overcome the COVID-19 scourge. They will help determine the place of novel and "conventional" zoonoses and traditional diseases – let us not forget about rabies, brucellosis, parasitic diseases or waterborne diseases – in the health and veterinary coordinate system. Ensuring the combined health of humanity and nature is probably the most pressing global challenge,” Oleg Kobiakov concluded.

Artem Kondrashov, Managing Director of MSD Animal Health in Russia, CIS and European Export Markets, noted that "livestock breeding is a dynamically changing industry where we are increasingly faced with challenges and opportunities that require new approaches and innovative solutions." He stressed that agriculture in Russia has enormous potential. "In 2020, Russian agricultural exports exceeded national imports for the first time in modern history. This year, the volume of exported dairy products has grown by more than 25 percent compared with the last year's figures." 

Jean Perchet, Deputy Director of the Moscow Office of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), highlighting the role of zoonoses, stressed that more than half of the human pathogens in the world are zoonotic, in addition, new ones are emerging: "For instance, it is conceivable that COVID-19 has arisen from wild bats." 

"We know that animal diseases can be prevented by careful monitoring, risk accounting and control measures. Much has been done in this domain even before the arrival of COVID-19. In Europe, for example, the WHO and OIE offices worked together with national governments. They have identified priority diseases. Some of these are of particular importance for the European region. For example, rabies. We have reduced the risk of rabies, now we have to strive to eradicate it, and this task is feasible." 

Zoonoses entail high costs, can lead to serious losses, for both people and animals' life and health, and the economy. In 2010, "the World Bank estimated direct costs at USD 20 billion and indirect losses at USD 200 billion," said Jean Perchet. "Just because of job losses it will take USD 3,5 trillion to restart the economy after the crisis, and almost USD 20 trillion to restore the economy as a whole." 

The expert drew attention to the measures that are necessary to prevent zoonoses. He highlighted investing in human, animal, and wildlife health, as well as investing in science. 

In the Russian Federation, the threat of a wide spread of nosocomial infection pathogens with multiple drug resistance (MDR) to reserve antibiotics in medical institutions is one of the most critical health problems requiring urgent and adequate measures, said Sergey Yakovlev, Professor of the Department of Hospital Therapy No. 2 of Sechenov University Medical Faculty. 

In the most problematic hospital departments – reanimation and intensive care – most nosocomial infection pathogens are characterized by extreme antibiotic resistance (they remain sensitive to a maximum of two antibiotics). Pan-resistant strains have emerged, for which no adequate therapy options exist. The mortality rate due to infections caused by pathogens with MDR is more than 50 percent, and the cost of treatment has increased ten-fold to fifty-fold, emphasized Professor Yakovlev.  

Federal State Budgetary Institution "The Russian State Center for Animal Feed and Drug Standardization and Quality" (VGNKI), within the framework of One Health approach, has established cooperation with the Research Institute of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy subordinated to the Ministry of Healthcare of the Russian Federation (Smolensk) – one of the country's leading laboratories for the research on bacteria sensitivity to antimicrobials, informed Olga Ivanova, Candidate of Veterinary Sciences, Head of the Department of Biotechnology of VGNKI. 

In 2019, the Research Institute of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy designed a unique online platform for analysis, visualization and exchange of data on antibiotic resistance – AMRcloud ("Antibiotic Resistance Cloud"). Veterinary monitoring of bacteria, isolated from raw materials, products of animal origin, and environment, is being carried out. PCR techniques are being developed to identify resistance genes to penicillins, cephalosporins, beta-lactams and colistin, sulfonamides and trimethoprim, fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines, aminoglycosides, conjugative plasmids that provide bacteria multi-resistant properties and the potential for their horizontal transfer. 

Elena Ageeva, Quality Assurance Director in Cherkizovo Group, shared the experience gained in improving poultry quality and reducing the use of antimicrobials. She described, in particular, what is included in the concept of "humane treatment of poultry" and how the company implements the principle of "five freedoms" from hunger and thirst, from discomfort, pain, injury, illness, fear, and stress, as well as "freedom to adhere to a natural behavior." 

At the same time, this approach assumes "access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor; provision of a suitable environment, shelter, resting place; disease prevention, rapid diagnosis, and treatment; provision of sufficient space, necessary devices and the company of other chickens; provision of conditions and treatment that do not indulge moral suffering." 

Simultaneously, non-use of antibiotics in feed for preventive reasons has been confirmed. Phytobiotics are administered instead and antibiotics in feed are no longer added to the compound feed for broilers throughout their growth period. 

Alexander Dukhovsky, Executive Secretary of the Veterinary Department of the National Union of Pig Breeders of Russia, LLC "Elanko Rus" Senior Technical Consultant, described what can be done to reduce the use of antibiotics in industrial pig farming. Since "the vast majority of bacterial diseases relate to factor infections, the most effective way to combat them is to comply with animal production technology in industrial enterprises, i.e. not to expose animals to stress factors," the expert explained.  

What is needed to put it in practice? Here is what Alexander Dukhovsky answered: "Increased protection of enterprises from the introduction of pathogens from the outside, first of all, by diagnosing and identifying bacterial carriers that should not be introduced as replacement livestock into the main parent herd; develop effective vaccines for bacterial diseases prevention and introduce them instead of prevention with antibiotics; look for niches in pig production technological chain, where antibiotics can be replaced by drugs with antibacterial effect, for example, of plant origin, chelated forms of macronutrients, and so on."


The session on the problem of zoonoses in Russia was also attended by Elena Simonova, MD, Professor of the Department of Epidemiology of the Institute of Professional Education of the Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University; Artem Metlin, Head of the International Cooperation Service of the Federal Centre For Animal Health (FGBI “ARRIAH”); Albert Davleev, President of Agrifood Strategies; Elena Repina, expert of the Dairy Union of Russia; Andrey Kovalev, President of the National Association of Turkey Producers; Andrey Dalnov, Head of the Center for Industry Expertise, Rosselkhoznadzor; Konstantin Stulovsky, Danone Milk Suppliers Development Team Leader. 

Representatives of ministries and agencies, international organizations, medical and veterinary science, as well as industry unions and leading agricultural holdings in Russia attended the event.


Full recording of the panel discussion "Zoonoses – a twenty-first-century challenge"

Full recording of the panel discussion "Antimicrobial resistance – the issue and possible solutions"