WRO takes strides towards International participation

The EFPRA congress in Stockholm proved to be a perfect setting for the first WRO international Workshop. “Sustainability: a key to open doors for growth and development.” The aim of the workshop was to make people think about how WRO can focus the rendering industry’s sustainability credentials to open the minds of retailers and consumers to the positive impact of the industry. The secondary objective for the discussion was to try find ways to encourage and support growth of the Industry in developing regions of the world, as well as considering if the development of global platform to highlight WRO’s key position within the livestock foodchain is possible. In particular, giving due respect to our key strengths of sustainability and animal disease bio-security.

The annual WRO meeting preceded the workshop and it was pleasing to see such a large attendance. The main conclusions were that WRO membership is now increasing and that funds are now in a more healthy state. The June edition of the World Render Outlook newsletter was well received and the WRO website was commended by many. It was felt that these communications are helpful tools to show that the WRO is active and participating on behalf of members. Other social media tools, such as Twitter, seem to be taking many renderers much more time to get used to!

It was also a very positive sign that two new members were adopted onto WRO Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP). Lucas Cypriano from Brasil and Shane Leath from New Zealand now join David Meeker (US) and Martin Alm (EU) as members of the SAP.

The speakers at the WRO workshop included Leo Den Hartog, director of research and development and quality affairs for Nutreco, who talked about sustainable ingredients in animal nutrition. Sean Zhou, Olymspan, China, discussed opportunities for renderers in China. Alexandra de Athayde, chief executive of the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF), completed the line up of speakers by telling us how IFIF worked, and how WRO could help IFIF to move towards sustainable feed and food for the world.

A discussion followed about how WRO could capture some of these interesting elements from the workshop.

China is showing a great deal of opportunity, and the need for input by WRO particularly, from developed countries, is enormous. However, the opportunities are offset by the need for a significant time and financial commitment, so are WRO really in a position to help at the moment?  

The sustainability discussion touched on many individual strands, and this discussion also highlighted the need for WRO focus on manageable topics, rather than trying to embark on major projects that are outside the scope of the WRO presidency and membership. It was recognized that effectively WRO is made up of volunteers, so this needs to be considered when planning ahead. Nonetheless, the Presidency made a commitment to members to work on a development plan that would be workable within these constraints.

Prior to the EFPRA/WRO meeting, the author attended the OIE World Assembly in Paris. Delegates from 178 OIE member countries were joined by invited guests and observers. WRO attended as an observer, having a memorandum of cooperation with OIE. All sessions were chaired by either the President of OIE, Dr Karin Schwabenbauer. The Director General of OIE, Dr Bernard Vallet was also in attendance, throughout, together with individual chairs of the meeting sessions. 

There were several key issues that affected WRO. Firstly the fact that observers are only observers - i.e. they cannot speak at the OIE world assembly. This is unless you are invited to speak at the meeting itself. Hopefully, WRO may get its chance in 2015. However, the status of observers emphasizes a point made previously to members; i.e. each WRO member must forge a link to their OIE (Country) delegate if they need to get a topic raised officially at plenary OIE meetings. Trade was noted time and time again as a vital aspect of the world economy, so OIE conditions (diseases list/conditions etc) should not be so onerous that trade is unnecessarily limited or even prohibited. The difference between listed and non-listed diseases is that there is a need to notify OIE of the former, but not the latter. It does not mean that the listed diseases are more important than the unlisted. Emerging diseases are typically unlisted, and there are criteria to fulfil to get such diseases listed. By the same token, it is possible to ‘de-list’ existing  listed diseases if they are controlled or eradicated such that they do not meet the ‘listing’ criteria. One example is Schmallenberg virus (SBV). Should it be listed or not? The working group that considers such matters concluded that SBV did not meet the criteria for listing. 

Interestingly, an OIE member (Italy on behalf of EU 28) deplored the fact that some OIE members do not comply with OIE rules. They also ‘threatened’ to take ‘offenders’ to WTO. This is particularly interesting point, as these issues have been noted by WRO members in the past. 

In relation to animal disease, which should be of great importance to WRO members, the Scientific Commission for Animal Disease [SCAD], was introduced by chairman Gideon Bruckner (South Africa).

He highlighted that BSE risk evaluation is currently based on classical BSE, but atypical BSE should also be considered. As a result, an ad-hoc group will be convened to consider atypical BSE (as done with atypical scrapie). He also proposed an ad-hoc working group for PEDv (as an emerging disease, and WRO will be involved with this, possibly in conjunction with IFIF. It was noted that there is a ‘working group on wildlife’ (sub-committee) and this considers separate aspects in terms of animal disease risk) in domestic animals) from wild animal populations. There were several resolutions proposed and voted on. Most significant for WRO members was resolution number 18 ‘Recognition of BSE risk status of member Countries’. This resolution was approved by OIE delegates, and the current position of the BSE risk status of OIE members is shown HERE.

The Terrestrial Code Commission was chaired by its President, Alex Thiermann.  The link between animal production and food safety was emphasized, in that that OIE collaboration with the Codex Alimentarus is encouraged as much as possible. It was said that this cooperative work should develop increased harmonization based on risk and this in turn should assist international trade. It was also emphasized, more than once, that animal welfare must be considered as an essential element of food safety and security.

The Code Commission reported that there were 33 revised texts for adoption this year. Many of these changes are text changes but several proposals were interesting. For example, when considering the “glossary (to the Terrestrial Code) it was admitted that there was no consensus or agreement on the definition of  ‘veterinarian’!  Also, the definition of “stamped out” (meaning disease eradication) was not agreed either. However, as a footnote to the “stamped out’ discussion the Danish OIE delegate proposed that the process of “Rendering” should  be added to the other techniques (burial, burning) otherwise used in disease eradication. Well,   at least ‘Rendering’ was mentioned in a positive way, and that is the perfect end for this particular column!

By Stephen Woodgate, WRO President


Footnote: The next WRO meeting on October 22nd will be held in conjunction with the 81st NRA Convention in Rancho Mirage, CA, USA. 

Please be there to continue the debate on the direction of the WRO!