The demands of globalization, commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and greater public scrutiny of quality and safety of produce are forcing countries to rethink their agricultural health and food safety policies and actions. Agricultural Health and Food Safety (AHFS) must now reflect a broader mandate and an expanded vision building on traditional agricultural health services within the Ministries of Agriculture to include stronger alliances and integration with Ministries of Health, Trade, and External Affairs and adopting a systems approach which involves links with producers, operators of agribusiness and food industries. Actions taken not only, should assure a strong and productive agricultural economy, but also increase trade and competitiveness, improve food safety, promote health, advance food security and tourism, and enhance environment stewardship. AHFS organizations must obtain the confidence of those they serve and that of their trading partners. To obtain this confidence requires the active participation of all parties across the entire agri-food chain. There must be a shared responsibility and coordinated approach on the part of public and private sectors to ensure that all of the stages in the agri-food chain are identified, that decisions are based on scientific criteria, that regulations are consistent with international standards, and that ail parties recognize the impact of AHFS policies and actions, in this paper, we discuss a modern national agricultural health and food safety system and suggest an approach to regional cooperation and coordination which will contribute to the Regional discussions.


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