Setting the scene
Livestock contributes 40% of the global value of agricultural production, employs 1.3 billion people, and supports the livelihood and food security of one billion of the world’s poor, most of them living in rural areas of Africa and Asia. In recent decades, the livestock sector has also experienced spectacular development and expansion, driven by income growth and rapid urbanisation in the developing world and supported by technological change and innovation. The term ‘Livestock Revolution’ was introduced in the late 1990s to illustrate this unprecedented increase in supply of, and demand for, animal products. These structural changes in the livestock sector, together with increasing trade in livestock and animal products, have also been accompanied by rising environmental and public health risks. The emergence of diseases of animal origin – such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and, more recently, influenza A (H1N1) and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI H5N1) – has, to varying degrees, had catastrophic public health and economic impacts.