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Agriculture

Canada needs stronger policies to protect against imported-dog diseases: vets

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VANCOUVER — When a British Columbia woman experiencing fever, headaches and weight loss for two months finally went to her doctor, a blood test revealed she’d contracted a contagious disease from a dog she’d rescued in Mexico.

Dr. Elani Galanis, an epidemiologist and public health physician at the BC Centre for Disease Control, said the case was surprising because the previously healthy middle-aged patient didn’t seem to be a candidate for the transmission of brucellosis, which medical literature suggests can afflict people with weakened immune systems, or the very young and elderly.

“Up until this adult woman became infected and tested positive we felt like the risk to humans, although possible, was very, very low,” said Galanis, who wrote about the anonymous woman in a recent issue of the BC Medical Journal.

The woman worked for an animal-rescue organization that transported dogs to Canada from Mexico and the United States, often driving there to pick up the animals, Galanis said.

On one occasion, she was bringing back a pregnant dog from Mexico and likely came into contact with the animal’s pregnancy fluids as it spontaneously aborted two stillborn puppies, Galanis said, adding the dog later tested positive for the bacterium brucella canis and the woman was diagnosed after seeking medical treatment last December.

“Given the story in other places, like the rest of North America, this hasn’t been seen much before,” Galanis said of transmission of the disease to humans. “We’re just starting to see it so I do believe it’s a true emergence of a new problem.”

“For us, the priority will be to ensure that physicians are aware that this is possible, that they ask the question about contact with animals, particularly imported dogs.”

Rob Ashburner, a veterinarian and spokesman for the B.C. branch of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, said efforts to have stricter regulations on the importation of dogs involving multiple federal agencies have so far been fruitless.

“The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has spent a lot of time trying to get the federal government to put some rules in place where animals imported from other countries should be tested for a bunch of communicable diseases, brucellosis being one of them,” he said. “Dogs from the warmer climates have all sorts of parasites that we don’t have here and they bring them in and affect our population as well.”

Plenty of dogs are available for adoption in Canada, Ashburner said, adding rescued animals can be traumatized after long trips and bring with them behavioural problems people may not expect.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency establishes requirements for animals such as dogs coming into the country.

It said dogs that are less than eight months old are inspected by its veterinarians at borders and older dogs are inspected by Canada Border Service Agency officers, who also review the animals’ certificates, such as those listing any vaccinations.

“If the CBSA officer has any concerns, such as the animal showing signs of illness or incomplete/incorrect paperwork, they call a CFIA veterinarian for examination,” the agency said in an email.

Ashburner said examinations at the border are not comprehensive and current regulations, requiring just a rabies vaccination, have been in place for decades, long before an increase in the number of pets and rescue-dogs being brought to Canada, sometimes with certificates that are bogus.

“In reality, just from personal experience, there are times when what the paperwork says is not true,” he said, adding while more dogs are being brought to Canada, there are no national statistics on how many are coming in.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said it acknowledges the global movement of animals, including dogs, can facilitate the spread of diseases that can be passed on to people.

“Educating breeders, importers, rescue organizations and Canadians on both the risks and mitigation measures is important to manage this issue,” it said in an email.

However, the agency did not respond to questions about whether it plans to consider any policy changes involving potential transmission of diseases to humans.

Emilia Gordon, a veterinarian and senior manger of animal health with the British Columbia branch of the SPCA, said various groups in the province are trying to create standards of practice for rescued animals.

“This is really an important issue for Canada,” she said. “I’ve personally seen a number of significant diseases in animals that were rescued from shelters in other countries.”

“We are increasingly seeing surrender requests for animals who were rescued from other countries and we’ve actually had to set an entire set of protocols and procedures in place to do risk assessments on these animals as they come in,” she said, adding up to five imported animals a week are being brought in to shelters around the province.

The United States, Mexico and south and central America were the major source countries about five years ago but that changed in the last year, with more dogs coming in from elsewhere in the world, including Asia and Morocco, Gordon said.

— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.

 

 

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Ag Business

With the world’s population soaring to 10 billion people, Robert Saik explores how farmers “might” be able to feed everyone

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Earth’s population will be close to 10 billion people by 2050.  So consider this line from Robert Saik’s “FOOD 5.0″…

“In order to feed the world, we have to grow 10,000 years’ worth of food in the next 30 years, which means farmers worldwide must increase their food production by 60 to 70%.”

If that doesn’t wake you up… probably nothing can.  How will farmers do it?  Even with today’s technology this it going to take an overwhelming international effort to avoid a mass-starvation.

His first book, “The Agriculture Manifesto – Ten Key Drivers That Will Shape Agriculture in the Next Decade” was a 2014 Best of Amazon Books and this TEDx Talk “Will Agriculture be Allowed to Feed 9 Billion People?” has been viewed over 150,000 times.

In a time where more and more people (in the first world) are demanding to know where their food is coming from and how food is being produced, “FOOD 5.0 How We Feed The Future” should be required reading.

Robert Saik in the Author Hour Podcast:

“Food 5.0, How We Feed the Future was written for an urban audience, more so than a farming audience. My mental image of who I wrote the book for was a 33-year-old mom in a city with some kids who is working and raising her kids.”

“We live in a time now where all the technologies are smashing together–they are converging on the farm to reshape the farm in ways that urban people just simply do not understand. It is happening at a breakneck pace and farms are far more sophisticated, far more advanced than people realize.”

” you’re going to realize and learn a lot about food production and a lot about marketing.”

In FOOD 5.0 How We Feed The Future, Robert Saik examines “how technology convergence is reshaping the farm and the consumer”.

Robert has been hailed as an agriculture futurist with unparalleled insight into where the industry is headed.  He’s worked with a variety of agriculturalists from Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture to Bill Gates.

He is the CEO of DOT Farm Solutions, which supports farmers adopting autonomous robotics in broad acre agriculture.  He’s also the founder of AG Viser Pro, a platform that Uber-izes knowledge and wisdom, enabling farmers to instantaneously connect with agriculture experts worldwide.

Robert is a passionate keynote speaker and is executive producer of the Know Ideas Media a science based multi-media company addressing issues such as GMO’s and their use in food production.  (Know Ideas Media is a partner in Todayville.com/Agriculture)

He serves on several Boards, is an advisor to Olds College, is a member of the A100 (Alberta Tech Entrepreneur Network), a student of Strategic Coach and Singularity University and a member of Abundance 360.  As a partner in Perigro Venture Partners he participates in early stage technology investments.

He been recognized for agriculture leadership by the Alberta Institute of Agrologists (Provincial Distinguished Agrologist of the Year) and in 2016 was awarded Canadian Agri-Marketer of the Year by the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association.

Here’s a story produced by Todayville on Robert’s visit to Seattle to brief Bill Gates.

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Agriculture

Prospect of U.S.-China trade deal creates access worries for Canadian farmers

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Canola oil

OTTAWA — China’s move to stop buying several Canadian agricultural products has punished some farmers, and now industry leaders are worrying about the prospect of a broader threat — an eventual U.S.-China trade deal.

Canadian exports of beef, pork, canola and soybeans have largely been locked out of the massive Chinese market following the December arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

At the same time, a handful of Canadian crops have had stronger sales to China over the past year, such as Canadian wheat, thanks to trade-related tariffs imposed by the U.S.

Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance president Brian Innes says Canada may see indirect benefits from the trade war in the short term — but he worries a deal down the road could have a negative impact on farm exports to China.

Innes says President Donald Trump has been clear that any trade deal must include China agreeing to make major agricultural purchases from the U.S.

He says Canadian exporters would like to see the government push for the removal of non-tariff barriers in other foreign markets — such as those in Europe and the Pacific Rim — because they have prevented farmers from fully benefiting from multilateral trade deals.

At the moment, there are few signs of progress in the U.S.-China trade talks, but negotiators are expected to meet next month.

The Canadian Press

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august, 2019

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