Food Security and Agro-Terrorism: Protecting Against Zoonotic Viruses

Chris Bomgaars, Photo Credit: EveryPig

Ira Pastor, ideaXme life sciences ambassador and founder of Bioquark, interviews Christopher Bomgaars, founder of EveryPig.

Ira Pastor Comments:

Today, we have an ideaXme episode at the epicenter of a fascinating set of topics.

But first, some background numbers and definitions:

Antibiotic resistance is when germs (i.e., bacteria, fungi, etc.) develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them, which is a top threat to the public’s health and an unmet medical priority across the globe.

In the U.S. alone, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates antibiotic resistance causes more than 2 million infections, several million hospital stay days, and over 35,000 deaths per year. Worldwide, there are over 750,000 deaths every year related to antibiotic resistance. It threatens our progress in healthcare, and ultimately, life expectancy.

A recent United Nations (UN) report concluded that by 2050, “super bugs” could kill 10 million people globally every year, if no action is taken to combat the problem.

In addition, antibiotic resistance has a major impact on food production.

Antibiotic Resistance and Food Production

In 2018, global pork production amounted to about 121 million metric tons per year, represented by 678 million pigs.

A recent research project conducted by the non-profit World Animal Protection (WAP), formerly known as The World Society for the Protection of Animals, identified several strains of bacteria in analyzed consumer pork sources, 80 percent of which were resistant to at least one antibiotic, 37 percent which were resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics, and nearly 10 percent resistant to six classes of antibiotics. Most worryingly, the report found that 27 percent of the resistant bacteria would be unaffected by antibiotics categorized as “Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobials” (HPCIAs) by the World Health Organization (WHO). HPCIAs are antibiotics used when there are few or no alternatives to treat people with serious bacterial infections.

This intersection between antibiotic resistance and food production, combined with mounting concern about zoonotic disease outbreaks, agro-terrorism (defined as the malicious attempt to disrupt or destroy the agricultural industry and/or food supply system of a population through the malicious use of plant or animal pathogens to cause devastating disease in the agricultural sectors), and the need for stronger bio-security systems to reduce disease frequency, spread, and impact is the fascinating set of topics we are going to get into today.

Daily Checkup, Image Credit: EveryPig

Christopher Bomgaars

I’m joined today by Christopher Bomgaars, founder of EveryPig, a technology company that addresses the problem of antibiotics over-prescription to pigs, as well as other pig health and bio-security risks like African Swine Fever, which has already wiped out a quarter of the world’s pig population since 2018. The EveryPig app has been used to manage more than 3 million pigs since the beginning of 2019.

Mr. Bomgaars graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a Business Administration degree. Prior to Loyola, Chris studied Spanish and International Business for a year at the Universidad de Granada in Spain. After college, he followed his entrepreneurial spirit by managing the startup, and eventually leading the negotiation for the sale of a logistics company in Costa Rica.

Image Credit: EveryPig

Mr. Bomgaars currently serves as Vice President of his family’s agricultural company, RC Family Farms, where he leads strategy, procurement and business development. His passion for innovation led Chris to create the EveryPig software application; a first of its kind pig health/welfare platform.

On this show we will hear from Mr. Bomgaars:

About his background and how he came up with the idea for the EveryPig app. The current structure of the global pig farming industry. The issue of antibiotic over-use in the animal husbandry business. The topics of agro-terrorism and zoonotic disease spillover/zoonosis (such as African Swine Fever). His thoughts on the topic of “fake” and lab grown meats.

Ira Pastor, ideaXme life sciences ambassador and founder of Bioquark

Credits: Ira Pastor interview video, text, and audio.

Follow Ira Pastor on Twitter: @IraSamuelPastor

If you liked this interview, be sure to check out our interview with Dr. de Brabander, Senior Vice President of Research and Development at PepsiCo!

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