Agricultural Biosurveillance, Biosecurity, and Biodefense (ABBB)
Convened by Institute on Science for Global Policy (ISGP)
Locations to be announced
06-01-2022 - 12-31-2022
Introduction: The vulnerabilities of the U.S. food and agricultural systems to natural and intentional attack and alteration have long been recognized as critical factors in U.S. national security protocols and economic prosperity. The overall safety of sustainable sources for agricultural products, animal protein, and seafood remains a central issue in efforts to ensure the safety of food writ large. The relationship between the quality of food, obtained domestically and internationally, has commanded intense scrutiny and monitoring as global populations dramatically increased and food transportation options expanded worldwide to unprecedented levels. Historically, the impact of food safety and agricultural sustainability (e.g., environmental impact, economic stability) on human health would be difficult to overstate. The rapidly increasing impacts of climate change observed worldwide have accelerated these concerns and emphasized the criticality of proactive policies and decisive actions to create integrated surveillance approaches spanning agricultural products, animal protein, and aquaculture. Integrated biosurveillance and biosecurity systems are fundamental to creating a strategic biodefense system that ensures the overall safety of food sources. The challenges of increasing human populations, expanding transportation systems, and emerging threats from zoonotic diseases require enhanced food safety protections.
The U.S. Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense (Diagnostics for Biodefense), a privately funded committee of U.S. governmental and private sector leaders, emphasized the national security impact of the vulnerabilities throughout the food system from biological attacks (plant and animal feed pathogens), emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, and transformational genomic changes from synthetic biology. The COVID-19 pandemic exemplified the consequences of these vulnerabilities and the result of inadequate proactive preparation and diagnostics. While the U.S. food supply (e.g., animal protein and seafood sources) was only indirectly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of variants remains to be established. Since the rapidly evolving consequences of natural (climate change, pollution) and societal discord are predicted to exacerbate all of these vulnerabilities, it is imperative that governments, private sectors, and civil societies proactively prepare to address the severe impacts on the sustainability of already insecure human, plant, and animal health systems.
ISGP-ABBB Program: The debate/caucus format pioneered by the ISGP engages highly credentialed subject matter experts and governmental, private sector, and public advocacy leadership to obtain their perspectives and priorities for actionable decisions designed to combat recognizable and anticipated threats to U.S. food and agricultural systems. In recognition of the strong influence of international biosecurity on U.S. decisions, ISGP interviews and analyses encompass both international and domestic expertise as it identifies a proactive framework of overarching security, economic, and civil society decisions focused on U.S.-centric technology applications, regulations, and public engagements.
Notionally, the ISGP-ABBB program is centered on five, sequentially convened conferences that foster intense, respectful debates and caucuses among distinguished, well-informed individuals who, while often having diverse, competing viewpoints and priorities, are positioned to make or significantly influence the formulation and implementation of major governmental, private sector, and civil society decisions. Several areas of focus for the initial ISGP conferences that have been tentatively identified from ISGP interviews with subject-matter experts and leadership are: (1) integrating a system of data acquisition, analysis, and access directly supporting the safety of economically viable, sustainable agriculture, practical sources of animal protein, and comprehensive protection of human health (One Health), (2) promoting an aquaculture system as a safe source of seafood, (3) monitoring and analyzing animal and human populations related to zoonotic infectious diseases, (4) promoting a safe and economically viable international trade and transportation system consistent with legal and regulatory frameworks that ensure the safety of food systems from attacks from natural events and/or intentional harm.