In this essay, the president of ChileCarne, Juan Carlos Domínguez, highlights the role of biosecurity as a key element to guarantee food security and social development, protecting both production and against the spread of diseases.

In recent months, the word “biosecurity” has become a trending topic in our industry given the arrival of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus brought into the country by migratory birds. First, it impacted wild birds, then backyard birds, and finally it got to meat and egg production farms last March. Although the impact of the disease on the industry, with consequences for both production and trade, cannot be ignored, it is important to underscore that it was precisely thanks to biosecurity measures that the impact was not even worse.

This is because safeguarding Chile’s health has always been part of the industry’s DNA, as it is one of the main competitive advantages that helped us develop a world-class white meat exporting industry and thus deliver our products to the world’s most demanding markets in terms of quality and food safety.

The industry’s efforts have been twofold. On the one hand, we have maximized our support to public authorities in their effort to prevent the entry of diseases through our borders or potentially contaminated raw materials. Our support to the canine brigades, border crossing infrastructure, and equipment for official laboratories is part of our work to strengthen Chile’s borders.

The wetlands program is another great example. It identified over 167 small producers near the main arrival sites for migratory birds between the regions of Arica and O’Higgins, who are supported with feed, technical assistance, and equipment to prevent their poultry from coming into contact with migratory birds. It should be noted that in the six months that Avian influenza has been active in our country, none of these animals have been infected.

On the other hand, through the years we have also improved prevention measures in our farms: training, investment in infrastructure, and best practices. In short, a series of measures to boost the biosecurity of our facilities, but more importantly, to create a culture of biosecurity in our companies and neighboring communities.

Our greatest challenge going forward will be to create a culture of biosecurity not only among those of us involved in the industry, but throughout the country. Chile is a world-class food producer and exporter and to stay at that level we need everyone’s effort.

The Ministry of Agriculture has taken a major step by enacting a new regulation that sets the obligation of implementing biosecurity measures, not only for commercial production, but for all animal owners. Those of us who are in charge of animals for breeding, recreation or company must be the first to safeguard their health and sanitary conditions, and biosecurity measures are undeniably the main tool to do so.

Last May, the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) held a meeting in Paris and devoted two days to discussing Avian influenza. The main takeaway was that the best way to safeguard the world’s poultry production, which is not just the main source of the world’s protein but also the main source of income for families in underdeveloped countries, is to strengthen biosecurity measures to prevent the disease from further spreading and putting food security and social development at risk throughout our planet.

So, as you can see, “biosecurity” needs to keep trending in the future…