Wageningen Bioveterinary Research designated as UN reference centre

Since the beginning of 2021, Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) has been designated as reference centre by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in the areas of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) as well as Veterinary Epidemiology. These are the first two FAO reference centres for these areas of attention in the Netherlands.

The goal of the FAO is to end hunger and poverty in the world. The FAO primarily wants to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable, mainly by offering countries aid in the form of advice and knowledge. In addition, all the FAO affiliated countries can submit a request for support to the FAO. FAO Reference Centres are the institutions that provide specific, independent technical or scientific advice on issues related to FAO’s mandate.

WBVR has been designated as FAO reference centre for FMD as well as for Veterinary Epidemiology. WBVR will on request provide technical expertise, diagnostic services and training to FAO member states. Especially the unique expertise that WBVR has in the areas of FMD vaccine production and quality control, will be beneficial to the FAO in the context of prevention. The eight FAO reference centres for FMD in other countries focus more on the diagnosis of foot-and-mouth disease.

As an FAO reference centre for Veterinary Epidemiology WBVR can be requested to provide expertise on the development and/or evaluation of disease monitoring systems and programs. Countries can also ask for advice to develop and/or evaluate risk analyses. In addition to providing knowledge and advice, the reference centre also has the task of giving courses to local experts in the areas of epidemiology and risk analysis. There are four FAO reference centres for Veterinary Epidemiology in other countries: England, Scotland, Italy and the US.

Disease control at the source

The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality also considers it of great importance to control a disease at its source and believes WBVR will be of great value as FAO reference centre for FMD as well as for Veterinary Epidemiology. Controlling animal diseases at the source, reduces the risk of spread to other countries (including the Netherlands).