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Throughout history, animal husbandry has been a central component of agriculture and livestock has been central to agrofood systems. Animals have provided rural societies with a broad spectrum of products and services, including food, energy, fertilizers, traction and transport, pest control, security, etc. Despite the immense benefits enjoyed by humans from this symbiotic relationship, coexistence with domestic animals also poses serious risks. Most important among these are infectious diseases of animal origin that can affect humans (zoonoses). These have been prominent among the many pandemics that have wiped out millions of people and communities since the earliest human settlements. To cite a relatively recent example, the 1918–1920 Spanish Flu Pandemic, caused by a virus with Avian origins, was responsible for tens of millions of deaths worldwide (Murray et al. 2006). Recent research on the human genome suggests that we have acquired resistance to such diseases over a much longer history of recurrent viral threats.
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Delgado, Christopher, Mark Rosegrant, Henning Steinfeld, Simeon Ehui, and Claude Courbois. Livestock to 2020: The Next Food Revolution. Nairobi, Kenya: International Food Policy Research Institute, May, 1999.
Murray, Christopher, Alan D. Lopez, Brian Chin, Dennis Feehan, and Kenneth H. Hill. “Estimation of Potential Global Pandemic Influenza Mortality on the Basis of Vital Registry Data from the 1918-20 Pandemic: A Quantitative Analysis.” The Lancet, Vol. 368, No. 9554 (December, 2006), pp. 2211–2218.
- Springer New York
- Chapter 1
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