On June 24, leaders from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Pan American Health Organization signed an agreement to boost agricultural systems in the Caribbean and South America, and defend the food supply from terrorism or accidental introduction of harmful substances and exotic disease.
The agreement formalizes the ongoing relationship between the USDA and PAHO, according to a statement from Elsa A. Murano, PhD, the undersecretary for food safety at the USDA. The agreement, which was signed by Dr. Murano and Mirta Roses, MD, a physician and the director of PAHO, went into effect immediately and will last for three years.
"I'm very optimistic of the benefits of our strategic alliance," Dr. Murano said.
The goals of the agreement include the following:
- Increasing the availability of food in the Western Hemisphere
- Facilitating trade of safe food in the Western Hemisphere
- Encouraging communication and resource sharing among scientists and government food safety officials
- Promoting the participation of smaller countries in international standard setting
- Enhancing coordination between the USDA and PAHO and reducing redundancy
An advisory group of PAHO and USDA representatives will promote these goals.