Moratorium on using live rinderpest virus lifted for approved research

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A laboratory technician testing blood samples from cattle to monitor for rinderpest virus

A moratorium on using live rinderpest virus for approved research has been lifted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The moratorium follows the adoption of a Resolution in May 2011 by all OIE Member Countries that urged members to forbid the manipulation of rinderpest virus containing material unless approved by the Veterinary Authority and by FAO and OIE.

The two organizations have now put in place strict criteria and procedures to follow in order to obtain official approval for any research proposals using rinderpest virus and rinderpest virus-containing materials.

One of the most crucial requirements is that the research should have significant potential to improve food security by reducing the risk of a recurrence of the disease. This procedure replaces an earlier complete ban on handling the virus.

Rinderpest was formally declared eradicated in 2011, but stocks of rinderpest virus continue to exist in laboratories.

FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth says “While the global community succeeded in eradicating the rinderpest virus in nature, we need to keep a close eye on virus samples that remain in laboratories".

He adds that “FAO is committed to assist countries in either destroying or securing any remaining rinderpest viruses held in laboratories to avoid any risks of their release into the natural environment.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’21″

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