In the Age of Pandemics, Connecting Food Systems and Health: A Global One Health Approach

Bron, Gebbiena M.; Siebenga, J.J.; Fresco, Louise O.


The health of people, the health of animals, including aquatic species and insects, the health of plants and the environment, including soils, are connected, and this is captured by the One Health approach. The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare this interconnectedness. Zoonotic infectious disease spillover occurs most commonly where the agri-food system interfaces with natural ecosystems, as this is where humans, domesticated animals and wildlife interact. On the other hand, deficient human health adds to the favorable conditions for pathogen transmission. There are direct and indirect effects of pandemics on food systems and health; disease outbreaks disrupt overall mobility, the workforce and the supply chain. Such disruptions affect food security and, in many cases, workers’ income or the economic viability of businesses in the food system. In this chapter, we discuss the link between global food security and One Health, and how to prepare for, and minimize the chance of, future pandemics. Reducing the likelihood of spillover and onwards transmission risk of pathogens can be served through (i) reducing the need for natural habitat disruption, (ii) smart management of both sides of the interface between natural ecosystems and the agri-food system, and vigilance at the human-animal interface within the agri-food system, and (iii) improving overall human, animal and environmental health.