Because of the indiscriminate use of xenobiotics in our country, our food is more or less contaminated with residues of antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides. Moreover, the storage conditions for food and feed provide an excellent opportunity for all kinds of fungi to grow and secrete toxins that are associated with health risks such as hepatitis, nephritis, immuno-suppression, poor growth and even cancers in humans and animals alike. Residues of antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides have also been documented to have negative impacts especially on the developing immune system of neonates. Moreover, food of animal origin might be contaminated with bacteria such as Mycobacteria, Brucellas and Salmonellas that are pathogenic for humans and constitute a major health hazard. The quality of our food and feed for animals in terms of these residues, toxins and pathogenic microbes is by no means ensured, so far. In other words, how safe is to eat the food we eat, nobody knows about it. Moreover, according to the QOL Charter, meat, milk, eggs or their by-products, in order to be exported to other countries of the world, would require a certificate of quality assurance from an internationally recognized and accredited lab that would accompany the product. The Government of Punjab has provided necessary funding for the establishment of this lab to fulfill the purpose of ensuring quality of food of animal origin for the general masses of the country as well as for the people abroad.
The following is a gist of the economic benefits that are likely to accrue due to various activities by QOL Quality Operation Lab of University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore:
- As the lab is going to house state of the art gadgets, besides testing the quality of food of animal origin, it will be used for producing Ph.D. scholars locally at the cost of Rs. 1-2 million. About 8 million rupees are spent on a Ph.D. scholar abroad. The lab intends to train 3 students per annum. Hence, this will be a saving of about Rs. 18 million annually.
- The lab will offer short courses on high pressure liquid chromatography, liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, mass spectrophotometry, fluorophotometry, electrophoresis, histopathology, immunohistochemistry, various serological assays, cell culture technique and cultivation of viruses, etc. which are going to contribute about Rs. 60,000.00 per year.
- Moreover, the lab will offer routine tests involving identification of various pathogens, pesticides, antibiotics, disinfectants and insecticides. Such tests are going to accrue about Rs. 20,000 per year to the lab.
- The lab will be engaged in producing good quality animal vaccines such as Foot and Mouth disease vaccine. Pakistan is home to about 49 million heads of cattle and buffaloes. If 10% of this population of animals gets vaccinated with the imported vaccine, this costs about Rs. 600 million to the country as the price of one dose of imported vaccine is Rs. 120. The WTO lab will be involved in research and development of such vaccines locally which will earn a saving of Rs. 400 million annually if it meets only 10% of the total cattle and buffalo population of the country for FMD vaccine.
- Similarly, there are other diseases that are economically important to the country. Producing quality vaccines against them will generate a huge amount of money for the country.
- Moreover, local production of vaccines will discourage indiscriminate import of vaccines in the country. It will also build lot of trust and confidence of farmers in our local scientists.
- And above all, it is going to be a step further for self reliance and dependence on local resources of the country.