G7 agree on cooperation to prevent animal diseases

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Tokyo, April 24 (IANS) The agriculture ministers of the G7 countries agreed on Sunday to deepen cooperation to combat diseases that affect livestock by creating a system to rapidly exchange information on cases of this kind.

Ministers from Japan, Canada, Germany, Italy, the US, Britain and France issued a joint statement during the G7 ministerial meeting, which began on Saturday in Niigata, northeastern Japan.

During the meeting, which focused on strategies to ensure food safety amid a rising global population, the ministers also stressed the need to attract a young workforce into the agricultural sector and take measures to reduce the effects of climate change on food production, EFE news reported.

Agricultural production must be increased by 60 percent by 2050 to feed a global population that will reach approximately 9.2 billion, according to the forecast of the UN' Food and Agriculture Organisation.

In the joint declaration, the ministers of the world's seven most industrialized countries acknowledged the crucial role of the agricultural sector to ensure global food security, particularly in an era of rapid urbanisation, and pledged to jointly tackle the emerging challenges in agriculture.

These actions, they added, will also benefit other countries facing similar challenges.

In particular, they agreed to create an international framework for the exchange of information on animal diseases, aimed at preventing the spread of outbreaks of viral diseases such as bird flu and foot-and-mouth.

This system will also allow closer cooperation to address the increased resistance to antibiotics that bacteria are developing as a result of excessive use of these medicines in livestock.

The ministers also agreed to hold a separate meeting dedicated to the aging of the agricultural workforce later this year in which developing countries will also be invited to participate.

The two-day meeting in Niigata is the first of its kind since the one held in 2009 in the Italian city of Treviso by the G8 -- before Russia was excluded from the group -- to discuss the rise in prices of agricultural products.

The conclusions of the meeting are expected to be discussed in the upcoming meeting of the world's most industrialised countries, which will be held in the Ise-Shima National Park in central Japan on May 26 and 27.​

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