Press Release (received October 6, 2010):

Agricultural Science and Politics

October 5, 2010—Dr. Juergen A. Richt [DVM, PhD], Kansas State University Regents Distinguished Professor and Director of CEEZAD, (Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases), speaking at the Farm Foundation Conference on September 24, 2010, “Zoonoses: Understanding the Animal Agriculture and Human Health Connection” in Washington, DC, set out the links between politics, One Health and communication. He emphasized that “the search for the public health of the nation is a political pursuit, because we are competing with other policy objectives, other priorities and many special interests.” “We must affirm,” he said, “the relevance of politics in a democratic society and communicate with politicians in their hopes, agendas and concerns, even if their primary concern appears at times to be re-elected. I believe that it is our task to convince the politicians that if they want to be re-elected they need to support us in our pursuit to improve public health.”


In striving to achieve this goal of sound public health, Dr. Richt noted that “it is essential to unite human and veterinary medicine with ecological health, in a commitment to ‘One Health—One Medicine—One Environment.’ If we try to protect people without protecting animals and the environment, the result will be that people, animals and the environment will all suffer needlessly. Therefore, we need to support the One Health Initiative that seeks to unify human and veterinary medicine.” However, he noted that even with an awareness of the importance of politics and One Health, it was essential “to learn to be effective communicators to achieve our policy objectives.” 


Intriguingly, Dr. Richt suggested that “the closer you get to a brick wall, the better you can see the door in that wall. The brick wall is our own limitations; and the door in that brick wall is not always open, because it is a swinging door that is moving us back and forth from scientific issues to political issues. We all need to take the opportunity to move through that swinging door at the appropriate time on the appropriate issues.”


Dr. Richt concluded that, “whether our primary concern is scientific, agricultural, veterinary medicine, public health, ecohealth or political, we can all learn to communicate effectively, with both our friends and those who think they are our enemies. If we fail to communicate, we fail as scientists.”


For further information, please contact Karinne Cortes or 785-532-2793