The emerging issues facing agriculture, food and the environment signal the need for new directions and expertise to address challenges for the 21st century. Agriculture is now global and the role that California and the nation needs to play in this expanding market needs better definition. The quality of food products for U.S. citizens needs to be maintained and the current production systems in the state need to be maintained and protected from emerging threats that come about from increased trade of foreign products. The outbreak in the United Kingdom of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, mad cow) and the recent foot and mouth disease epidemic are classic examples of the impact of globalization. BSE is a major public health problem that occurred from changed agricultural feeding practices and has now moved to European countries as well as those of the Eastern Block. Continued feeding of meat and bone meal from affected animals, although now banned in the U.K., continues in the E.U. countries. Vigilance needs to be continued here to prevent the contaminated products from reaching our shores. The foot and mouth disease outbreak came about from feeding raw garbage to pigs. These now global diseases need to be kept out of the U.S. In the meantime, expertise needs to be developed here to prevent these and other emerging agricultural diseases from reaching our shores.
Globalization of the food supply has brought many new diseases to the U.S. constituents. This trend will continue and the risks associated with these new sources of foods remains very high. Part of our obligation as food suppliers and as public health officials is to maintain a healthy human population. Research training is essential for the U.S. to maintain a strong program in the Masters of Preventative Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology Graduate group. These new challenges require additional research faculty to carry out the research needed to keep us abreast of these new problems.