In the News: USA Today Special section on Agriculture

This article, from March 18, 2022, features insights from Michael Helmstetter, Ph.D., founder and president of TechAccel. Here is an excerpt from the article (p. 42):

FOR MORE THAN TWO years, COVID-19 has been a scourge on humanity, but it isn’t the only malevolent
microbe that’s keeping world leaders up at night. Although most Americans have never heard of it,
there’s another highly contagious illness circulating the planet that could wreak its own kind of havoc. It’s called African swine fever.

To be clear, humans cannot contract African swine fever. A viral disease aff ecting domestic pigs and wild boar that was first discovered in Kenya a century ago, it’s a strictly porcine illness. And yet, what doesn’t infect humans can still affect them, according to Jenny Moffitt, undersecretary of agriculture for marketing and regulatory programs at the USDA. So far, she says, the latest wave of African swine fever is confined to Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. If it spreads to the United States, however, 76 million domestic pigs could be susceptible to the disease, which causes lethal hemorrhaging in almost
every animal that becomes infected.

“African swine fever is a deadly swine disease that would have a significant impact if it were found in the United States,” says Moffi tt, who oversees USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). “An African swine fever outbreak here would have devastating economic effects on the swine industry and would cause billions of dollars in lost production and trade.”

Industry and government are investing massive time and resources into ending the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing the next one. But what if the next public health crisis attacks food instead of people?

It’s a legitimate question, according to toxicologist Michael Helmstetter, co-founder, president and CEO of TechAccel, a technology and venture development enterprise in the agriculture and animal health sector.

“We’ve taken biosecurity for granted in this country , but COVID has really opened up our eyes,” says Helmstetter, who notes the indirect impact of the pandemic on meat processing and inflation. “Imagine if something really significant happened to impact the food supply chain directly. It would have such massive consequences for the food system, including food processes, prices and availability.”

Read more at:

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram