December 2, 2021Lu Shegay & Zihao Yu

New FAO-OIE-UNEP-WHO Platform to Tackle Human, Animal, and Environmental Health Challenges


November 22, 2021


With representatives of concerned parties in Europe and Central Asia, the first dialogue meeting of the One Health partner platform took place on 22 November in Budapest, Hungary, with the aim of addressing health threats to animals, humans, plants, and the environment in a more effective and coordinated manner.

Participants gathered to discuss benefits and challenges associated with applying the One Health approach and the role of partners and their expected contribution to the platform.


The dialogue was initiated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and WHO during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18–24 November).


Adhering to the theme of the week for 2021 “Spread awareness, stop resistance”, the platform provides an opportunity for United Nations agencies, international organizations, financial institutions, civil society, academia, and the private sector to initiate a thematic dialogue on One Health issues in the countries of Europe and Central Asia. It aims to take stock of the region’s emerging (and re-emerging) health threats at the human-animal-environment interface, provide evidence, share lessons learned and facilitate networking around successes, better identify challenges, and foster innovation in working with the One Health approach.

Through the platform, partners can also share tools that could facilitate the practical implementation of the One Health approach in priority areas at the national level to maximize impact.


Commentaries of IALA

The world is facing challenges not only from the pandemic of the COVID-19 but also from other threats such as climate change. The One Health approach provides a better platform for across sectors of the global and regional health issues including human, animal, food safety, and the environment. The human-animal-environment interface shall be studied together with global efforts to find a better solution for the future.

Animal Welfare Board Issues Advisory to Replace Animals in Films with Modern Technology


November 25, 2021

Following an appeal from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India regarding cruelty to animals for films, TV shows, advertisements, and digital content – and after the group submitted a complaint concerning the recent death of a horse on the set of Ponniyin Selvan – the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has issued an advisory asking all film producer associations, over-the-top platform associations, film chambers of commerce, and advertisers to prioritize the use of modern methods such as computer-generated imagery (CGI), visual effects (VFX), and animatronics over live animals to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering. The AWBI is the prescribed authority under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, which authorizes the use of animals in films.

PETA India’s Chief Advocacy Officer Khushboo Gupta says, “The AWBI has taken a step appropriate for modern times to encourage the use of existing technology in the production of films, TV shows, advertisements, and online content instead of forcing animals to perform. There is a moral responsibility on the part of Indian production companies to use CGI, VFX, and other types of modern technology and follow the example of many renowned Indian and foreign filmmakers.”

The AWBI advisory observed that stressed animals are often transported to distant locations, where they are exposed to the chaotic conditions of a film set, and that trainers routinely use methods that involve coercion or punishment. Animals used in the entertainment industry are typically separated from their mothers as infants, beaten or starved during training, forced to perform confusing or dangerous tricks, and chained or caged when not being used.

Recently, following a complaint from PETA India based on a whistle-blower report that a horse was involved in a head-on collision and died during the shooting of the film Ponniyin Selvan, the AWBI called on the district collector of Hyderabad and the Telangana State Animal Welfare Board to conduct an inquiry into the incident. The AWBI also asked officials to ensure that the culprits receive “exemplary punishment” in order to deter such crimes in the future.


Commentaries of IALA

Animal shows or performances are always involved with cruel treatment and training. Animal shows can be for entertainment, educational, or commercial purposes. Using animals in films, TV shows, advertisements, and digital content is treating animals as tools or laborers regardless of their own interests and basic needs. Animals in zoos, circuses, aquariums are not living in their natural environment, and the human-animal interaction will cause potential risks for animals’ health and behavior. All animal performances either online or offline shall be carefully examined to avoid cruel practice or treatment.

Learn more about the ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ statement of the American Humane Association here.

Growthwell Foods Launches Singapore’s First Plant-based Protein Innovation, R&D and Manufacturing Facility with High Moisture Extrusion Technology for Large-scale Production


November 26, 2021

Growthwell Foods, a leading manufacturer of plant-based alternatives for meat and seafood for the Southeast Asian market, has launched its Innovation, R&D, and Manufacturing Centre at JTC Foodhub Senoko. The center features Singapore's first fully automated large-scale production line for plant-based products. Established in 1989, Growthwell Foods has been the trusted one-stop meat-free solutions provider in Singapore for F&B businesses and organizations around the world.


The center is a step towards realizing Growthwell's goal of contributing to Singapore's 30 by 30 vision by producing plant-based products for the local market here in Singapore. The organization aims to become Asia's leading plant-nutrition food tech company, nourishing 100 million lives through the provision of sustainable and nutritious plant-based food options. The R&D activities at the center will focus on improving the taste and nutritional properties of its plant-based products.


The center will function as a pilot plant, making Singapore the launchpad for further expansion into other regions with dedicated production in the future.


Growthwell's Innovation and R&D Manufacturing Centre will be producing HAPPIEE!, a brand-new, homegrown plant-based range that evokes positivity and inspires active lifestyles. There are four products under the soy-based chicken range: Plant-Based Chickiee Nuggets, Plant-Based Chickiee Popcorn, Plant-Based Chickiee Patties, and Plant-Based Breaded Chickiee Patties. Made with konjac, the fish range comes with two products: Plant-Based Fishiee Sticks and Plant-Based Fishiee Patties. All six products are free of trans fat.


Commentaries of IALA

Plant-based alternatives are good methods to provide enough nutrition without harming animals. Plant-based meat has existed for centuries in Asia, and according to Euromonitor, four of the top five global vegetarian markets are in Asia, including India, Indonesia, China, and Pakistan. With the help of new technology, plant-based products can be healthier, tastier, and more nutritious than before. Plant-based diets are influenced by multiple factors such as health, wellness, ethics, environment, and trust in food safety.

Learn more about the market of plant-based proteins in the Asia Pacific here.

Study Shows Despite Tough Laws, Illegal Bear Trade Continues in India


November 26, 2021

Between 2009 and 2019, the number of reported incidents of poaching and seizure of bear parts in India was 149 involving at least 264 bears, notes a new study. The gall bladder of the Asiatic black bear was poached in high numbers for use in traditional medicine, while sloth bears were killed for their skin and claws. The Asiatic black bear Ursus thibetanus, and sloth bear Melursus ursinus are currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Both these species are protected under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and you can be imprisoned for three to seven years and charged a hefty fine or both for the illegal trade. They are also listed in Appendix I of CITES which prohibits international trade of these species.


There have also been reports of international trafficking of bear gall bladders from India into Japan as far back as 1981 as well as into Singapore, Taiwan, mainland China, Myanmar, and Nepal.


In 2012, though a National Bear Conservation and Welfare Action Plan were developed, the extent of the illegal bear trade in the country remains poorly documented. The study noted that the highest number of bear seizures were reported in Uttarakhand followed by Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra “This is unsurprising considering Uttarakhand shares a long and porous border with Nepal, a known trade route for other wildlife products e.g. big cat skins reach China,” writes the team.


One of the authors of the study, Tito Joseph from the Wildlife Protection Society of India, says that the Trans-Himalayan land route is a hotspot for illegal wildlife trafficking. “The South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) launched in 2011 has been working with member countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka to combat illegal wildlife trade in South Asia. We work with the local police, customs, and sea guards to enhance wildlife law enforcement,” says Joseph.


Commentaries of IALA

Wildlife crime needs public awareness and legal implementation and supervision system to support the legislation. For the public, it is important to let them know that behind the products, illegal wildlife trade has harm to animals, biodiversity, and the ecosystem. The enforcement methods include public enforcement by the governmental agencies and the private enforcement from the public reporting. With the effort from legislation, government law enforcement, and public participation, the illegal wildlife trade can be reduced.

Read our blog: Asiatic Black Bears Threats and Legal Protection

52 Dogs Saved from Death After Rescuers Intercept Truck Taking Tied Up Pets to Slaughterhouse in Indonesia


November 29, 2021


Over 50 dogs are getting a second chance at life thanks to a group of quick-thinking rescuers. According to a release from FOUR PAWS, police officers and animal rescuers from Dog Meat-Free Indonesia intercepted a delivery truck carrying 53 dogs bound for an illegal slaughterhouse.


The canines' saviors found the pups tied up in sacks with their mouths bound. Almost all of the dogs were emaciated and under the age of one, per the release.

This rescue effort marks Indonesia's first large-scale raid on an illegal dog meat slaughterhouse, and the raid resulted in the arrest of an individual believed to be working in the dog meat trade for over 20 years.


After pulling the dogs from the truck and freeing the animal from their bindings, Dog Meat-Free Indonesia rescuers provided emergency vet treatment for all the canines and then transported them to a temporary shelter. Unfortunately, one of the 53 dogs died before arriving at the shelter. The surviving animals will remain at the shelter until they recover from the abuse and neglect they have endured.

Commentaries of IALA

Dogs have always been treated as companion animals, family members, friends, or working animals. However, dog meat has been consumed as food in some areas due to historical or cultural reasons. In South Korea, there is a debate on whether to ban all dog meat restaurants between animal lovers and traditionalists. The dog meat industry is not well regulated in almost all the processes from breeding, raising, transportation, to slaughter. Under these circumstances, food quality, food hygiene, food safety cannot meet the requirements of the food safety law.


Read our blog: Dog Meat: Consumption and Regulations in Asia

Singapore, Chinese Government Agencies Are Given UN Award for the Seizure of Elephant Ivory


November 30, 2021


A 7.8kg elephant ivory ornament in an air shipment from France to Singapore did not escape the detection of the authorities in China, where the cargo was in transit. The shipment was later intercepted here by a team comprising officers from local government agencies as part of a joint operation between both countries.


For their efforts, the National Parks Board (NParks), the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), Singapore Customs, and Anti-Smuggling Bureau of General Administration of China Customs have been presented the United Nations 2021 Asia Environmental Enforcement Award in the Collaboration category, said NParks in a statement on November 30. This information was shared by the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of General Administration of China Customs with Singapore Customs.


The cargo was released for shipment to Singapore as part of plans between the Chinese bureau and NParks to coordinate its delivery. It was then intercepted here by an inter-agency team comprising the ICA, Singapore Customs, and NParks. NParks subsequently arranged for the ornament to be delivered within Singapore in order to identify its buyer. The seller was also later identified.


Commentaries of IALA

Elephant ivory is sold and made into jewelry, ornaments, musical instrument parts, religious objects, and other collectibles. However, most of the ivory products come from poaching. The illegal ivory trade is threatening the life of elephants and their habitats. Only about 415,000 African elephants remain in the wild today, and every year poachers kill at least 20,000.

Learn more about a new international survey that reveals what’s really driving the demand side of the ivory market here.

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