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Research Spotlight: Application of OIE Risk Analysis Framework to Formal and Informal Trade for Assessing Threats to US National Food Security - Phase I

Monday, October 31, 2016

Through this project, risk-based research will be conducted to characterize the threat that wildlife trade poses to the food supply and the opportunities it poses for criminal and terrorist activities impacting the United States. The research proposes to develop a capability to prioritize risk based on pathways posing the highest threat.


The value of the global wildlife trade (including timber and fisheries) is estimated at US$300 billion annually. The illegal component of this trade lies somewhere between the second and fourth largest illicit global trafficking industry alongside narcotics, humans and counterfeit consumer products, which in certain cases share similar global pathways. Involving millions of wild animals trafficked around the world as food, trophies, pets, fashion, medicine and aphrodisiacs, this trade directly undermines international and national trade and safety regulations. Additionally, the movement and intermingling of wildlife, domestic animals and humans that occurs during the process of wildlife trade creates ample opportunity for disease emergence and spread, threatening both humans and food production animals. The US is the world’s largest consumer of imported wildlife and wildlife products, both legal and illegal, and thus both perpetuates the trade and increases the risk of health and security threats posed by both illegal and minimally regulated, but legal, wildlife trade activity. The potential threat of terrorists utilizing wildlife trade as a means of causing harm must also be considered.


Application of scientific, standardized and objective methodologies to characterize the risk of wildlife trade to the US food supply: stakeholder engagement, examination of databases for formal and informal wildlife trade and food imports to the US, risk assessment to characterize host-pathogen combinations and the threat they pose to food commodities.


This project team is uniquely qualified to provide support in three significant areas of interest to this problem: science-based risk assessments at the human-domestic animal-wildlife interface; global wildlife policy and trade; and US agricultural industry engagement.  Additionally, input from stakeholders in government, non-governmental organizations and interest groups, industry, and academia via Delphi processes will allow for contribution of expert opinion on the topic.

Key Users

• Government trade regulators
• Agriculture and food industry
• Exotic pet and wildlife sale industry


• EcoHealth Alliance
• University of Minnesota
• Food System Institute, LLC

Co-Principal Investigators:

Dominic A. Travis, DVM, MS
Associate Professor, Ecosystem Health Initiative, College of Veterinary Medicine
Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Public Health, Resident Fellow, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota

Kristine Smith, DVM
Associate Director of Health and Policy, EcoHealth Alliance


Final Report Briefing

Download Handouts: Project Abstract


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This project is funded through the Food Protection and Defense Institute by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s Office of University Programs through Award Number 2010-ST-061-FD0001.