Foot-and-mouth disease is endemic in many areas within the developing world. Areas where – in comparison with developed countries – higher proportions of the population derive their livelihoods from agriculture and areas where large animal agriculture comprises a comparatively higher proportion of national gross domestic product: those most affected can least afford it.

Outbreaks of FMDV in developed countries may, however, also cause huge economic losses through the direct effects on agriculture / agricultural suppliers – but also through major effects on the tourism sector of the economy. In the case of the UK 2001 outbreak losses measured in billions, rather than millions, of pounds. The message is clear: infectious agents combined with global trading and tourism means food security in the developed world is closely coupled with food security in the developing world.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has funded a major new collaborative project ‘The Molecular Biology of FMDV Replication: Towards New Methods of FMDV Disease Control’.

The goal of this project is to bring about a transformation in the way FMDV will be controlled in the future by directly addressing the new ‘vaccinate to live’ policy.

The project will integrate the work of academics at the Pirbright Institute with those from the Universities of St Andrews, Leeds, Edinburgh and Dundee, each partner contributing distinct, but complementary, areas of research experience and expertise.