European collaboration: sharing and acquiring knowledge


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European collaboration: sharing and acquiring knowledge


It is useful to acquire new knowledge, but it is also effective to share and argument that knowledge. We therefore regularly participate in international collaborations, like COST Actions. This has provided us with insight into the Irish approach to BVD, for example. Gerdien van Schaik and Inge Santman-Berends tell us more about this. 

Within Europe, GD undertakes a variety of forms of cooperation. This may be aimed at the development of new methodologies, while other projects may focus on the sharing of knowledge and encouraging cooperation, so-called COST Actions. GD is involved in two such projects: “STOC free and SOUND control,” Gerdien explains.

SOUND control

“SOUND control (Standardizing OUtput-based surveillance to control Non-regulated Diseases of cattle in the EU) is a COST Action in which we look at the possibilities for comparison of the results of various animal disease control programmes,” Inge continues. “Each country has its own control programme for endemic diseases such as bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) and infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) for example, tailored to the local situation.

The variety in control programmes results in a variety of disease statuses which are all referred to as being ‘free’. The definition of the BVD free status in the Netherlands differs from that definition in Ireland, for example. In this project, the basic question was: ‘How can we compare these ‘free’ statuses in order to enhance safe trade?’ Inge: “We are aiming to move towards output-based surveillance. This means that we want to stimulate initiatives that focus on comparing the outputs of differently designed control programmes instead of prescribing that all control programmes have to be the same. We very much stimulate southern and eastern European countries to participate, to share knowledge and experiences. In this project, which is chaired by GD, 33 countries collaborate to reach mutual agreements on the

STOC free

Gerdien van Schaik (GD and UU) coordinated the technical STOC free project (Surveillance Tool for Outcome-based Comparison of FREEdom from infection) which is financed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and by public organizations in the countries concerned, including the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Safety. “In this project we examine how we could determine freedom from infection with BVD. BVD, a disease with a complex ethology, was used as an example to find out how we can compare the free status in the six countries involved. That proved to be challenging,” Gerdien explains. “We were able to develop a model at the farm level, as that is the most relevant for BVD. Because GD is extensively involved in to control of BVD in the Netherlands, it was a logical choice to participate in this project.

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