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Recombinant vaccines, nanotechnology and metagenomics: these terms from the realm of biotechnology are not well known today but could well be a part of our everyday language tomorrow.
"The OIE wants to increasingly support biotechnologies designed to improve animal health, while ensuring their safe development and use in compliance with animal health and welfare requirements and in accordance with OIE's standards, democratically adopted by our Members," Dr Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General, says.
Preventing unchecked development and application
The OIE, with leading world experts specialised in the many facets of biotechnologies, is expanding its work with the delivery of more international standards and guidelines that will ensure sound scientific research, the production of meticulous risk analyses and the development of more active international coordination in this field.
"Even though we are still in a fundamental research phase on many topics, biotechnology products are already in use, mainly in veterinary vaccinology, and we are definitely in the fast lane to mainstream application," explains Prof. Paul-Pierre Pastoret, Head of the OIE Publications Department and expert an on immunology and vaccinology.
Societal concerns over food safety, animal welfare and the environment need to be addressed before and throughout the development process of these new technologies.
"Possible toxicity of nanotechnologies, potential long-term impact of transgenesis on animal health and other potential hazards need to be fully determined, analysed and dealt with in an international framework," he insists.
First applications show benefits are plenty
Today, 105 biotechnology products are licensed for animals in many countries and substantial achievements have been made in animal health. New powerful diagnostic assays and many other approaches to detect pathogens and/or immune responses after infection demonstrate the added value of biotechnology in advancing animal health and welfare.
Tangible advances are also seen in vaccination. For instance, the advent of recombinant-DNA vaccines has helped in the control of terrible diseases like rabies. Thanks to oral recombinant-DNA rabies vaccines, thousands of animal and human lives have been saved in several parts of the world. Aujeszky's disease (pseudorabies) is also under control in many parts of the Americas and Europe mainly thanks to a recombinant vaccine.
"The main obstacle to using biotechnology and improving animal health at a global level is the lack of a secure framework in which research and findings can safely serve the international community. We must address this problem", Dr Bernard Vallat says.
The need to fight animal diseases at global level led to the creation of the Office International des Epizooties through the international Agreement signed on January 25th 1924. In May 2003 the Office became the World Organisation for Animal Health but kept its historical acronym OIE.
The OIE is the intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide.
It is recognised as a reference organisation by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and as of May 2007, had a total of 169 Member Countries and Territories. The OIE maintains permanent relations with 35 other international and regional organisations and has Regional and sub-regional Offices on every continent.
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OIE - World Organisation for Animal Health
12 rue de Prony
75017 Paris (France)
Tel: +33 (0)1 44 15 18 88
Fax: +33 (0)1 42 67 09 87
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