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August 15, 2020

Environmental health focus of this year’s Global Health Summit

Published on July 22, 2020

Experts in several areas will discuss environmental health issues during the annual Global Health Summit at the AVMA Virtual Convention 2020, taking place Aug. 20-22.

Cattle in stalls
“The Truth About Livestock and Methane Emissions” is one of the sessions during the annual Global Health Summit at the AVMA Virtual Convention 2020.

The Global Health Summit will include a series of four sessions on Thursday, Aug. 20, discussing such topics as one health, sustainability, and planetary health. They are as follows.

“One Health: What Is It, What Should It Be?” will kick off the summit from noon to 12:25 p.m. EDT, led by John Gittleman, PhD, who is the dean and a professor of ecology at the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology. He will identify key examples of how the one-health approach is uniquely effective in solving difficult health problems, such as Ebola, West Nile virus, and emerging human diseases; show new forecasting methods to determine the where, when, and pace of emergent pathogens; and generally characterize why this approach, though difficult, is critical to predicting, solving, and finding common ground for health issues. “To advance the field we must expand interdisciplinary databases to rapidly access information on biodiversity, public health and ecosystems and, to be truly successful, widen One Health applications into agricultural, clinical and environmental issues,” the session summary states.

“The Veterinarian’s Role in Sustainable Animal Agriculture,” will take place at 12:25-12:50 p.m. EDT, presented by Dr. Simon Doherty, a veterinary surgeon who is focused on global livestock health. Dr. Doherty will describe how sustainable agriculture and aquaculture impacts and is impacted by key environmental issues such as climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, and the effect of disasters and provide an overview of the development and adoption of the British Veterinary Association’s position statement on sustainable animal agriculture. He will also cover ways the veterinary profession must adapt to be at the forefront of tackling global challenges such as antimicrobial resistance and reducing greenhouse gas emissions while, at the same time, maximizing animal health, animal welfare, and agricultural productivity and minimizing waste, according to the session summary.

“The Truth About Livestock and Methane Emissions,” led by Frank Mitloehner, PhD, will be held from 2:30-2:55 p.m. EDT. Dr. Mitloehner, professor and extension specialist in air quality at the University of California-Davis, will delve into how improvement in efficiencies per animal has considerably reduced the environmental impact per unit of production on livestock operations, even though livestock production has become spatially concentrated in several regions of the industrialized world. Dr. Mitloehner argues that a sustainable future in animal agriculture will require that the output of livestock systems match the capacity of crops and soils to utilize those nutrients or that alternative uses of manure for fuel and energy production be implemented.

“Honeybees: Selecting for Behavioral Resistance to Varroa Destructor,” is the final session from 2:55-3:20 p.m. EDT. Krispn Given, apiculture specialist at Purdue University, will give an overview of successful breeding paradigms and the protocols Purdue has used for over 22 years in its honeybee breeding program. He’ll also talk about a selective phenotypic breeding program to reduce the impact of Varroa destructor mites in honeybee colonies.