Talking and tackling urban agriculture, urban food system and urban health: “One Health” partners met in Sao Paulo for further agenda setting.

June 17, 2019.  

Around 25 participants from nine different Brazilian and German institutions of the Graduate School “One Health and Urban Transformations – identifying risks and developing sustainable solutions” met in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on June 18, 2019. They shared information about current projects, identified research themes for the One Health graduate school and discussed potential research topics for long-term collaboration purposes.


The One Health Graduate School, which started in 2016 and has been initiated and funded by North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), investigates various dimensions and transformations of the urban systems and their impact on human, animal and environmental health. It contrasts the historical development and current challenges of NRW with three urban metropolitan areas: São Paulo (Brazil), Accra (Ghana) and Ahmedabad (India).

 At the core: One Health doctoral students

During the first part of the workshop the current One Health students presented their on-going research in São Paulo revolving around two topics: resilience of urban agriculture production systems and urban parks for mental health and biodiversity support.Following the introduction of the current work from Bonn, various faculties/departments of presented their current work related to One Health & Digitalization (look at blog post of One Health student, Jessica Felappi, and at her presentation here).

Possible future research focus in Brazil: Urban food system

It was agreed that the research of the first generation of One Health graduate students in Brazil should be pursued, which deals with urban agricultureand the spread of antimicrobial resistance. A possible future research topic could be the ‘urban food system’, which provides great opportunities for interdisciplinary research collaboration. Economic, social, veterinary, public health, agricultural science, food science, microbiology, virology, bacteriology, parasitology can all contribute to a One Health understanding of urban food production and consumption, while also generating results of disciplinary relevance.

Brazil is a global player in the production of agricultural commodities which makes this research not only relevant in the local context but can also be of global importance. Key potential research topics identified include: the transmission of zoonotic diseases, risks of vector-borne diseases, food safety standards (labels/certifications), spread of antimicrobial resistance, surveillance of outbreaks and the use of organic waste as inputs of production (insects for feed). Additionally, a wide range of potential practice partners were identified (e.g. agricultural producers, labeling agencies, policy makers, transnational corporations) that already collaborate with researchers at USP and can thus be integrated into the research to render it transdisciplinary and implementation-oriented.

Focus long-term cooperation on the topic of sustainable agricultural production

The second part of the discussion was more an open discussion and explorative, looking at possible topics for long-term collaboration beyond the One Health graduate school. This discussion revolved around sustainable development of agricultural production. It was identified that a revolution of the food industry is required to ensure its long-term sustainability. A key question posed was: how can the different pressures on the food industry be reconciled? There are pressures of global population growth (how to feed 9 billion people), of more sustainable production (how can sustainable intensification work), of the supply chain (how can the inputs of production become more sustainable, while remaining profitable), as well as the pressures of consumers (how can food affordability and sustainability be reconciled).

With regard to sustainable intensification two aspects were highlighted: on the one side, how can more sustainable agricultural practices be made operational on a large scale (industrial producers), and on the other side, can new business models for agribusiness allow more small-scale production? Another aspect of sustainable agricultural production discussed was the biodiversity of food (ecosystem) and biodiversity loss, essentially putting in question the dominant practice of monocultures and rather promote indigenous, non-traditional foods.

Digitalization and One Health

A major topic of discussion was the role of digitalization with regard to One Health and sustainable development. The use of remote sensing and GIS coupled with Big Data from cell phones, internet service providers, surveillance networks, scientific databases, etc. provides an opportunity to identify and predict disease hotspots, zoonotic spillovers and disease distribution through the integration of data sources (human, veterinary an environmental) and machine learning. Some partners are already working on applications on this topic. In regard to the sustainable intensification of agricultural production the use of sensors and drones was discussed, which allows for targeted fertilization and pesticide application as well as for improved water use management.

Conclusion and follow-up

The workshop identified a range of topics of common interest to the involved institutions and it was mutually agreed that there is a large scope for long-term collaboration between Bonn(-Region) and São Paulo. On both sides the development of such collaboration will be pursued and it is planned to organize a strategic workshop at USP next year to further facilitate this process.



Workshop Agenda:


8:00 to 8:30    Arrival & Registration

8:30 to 8:45    The One Health Program

Timo Falkenberg - ZEF/UniBonn

8:45 to 9:05    Current One health student´s at USP: research updates

Berenice Fischer & Jessica Felappi – Uni Bonn & HBRS

9:05 to 9:15    The Workshop Goals: Digitalization and Sustainability

Christian Borgemeister- ZEF/UniBonn

9:15 to 9:30   Digital Transformation & Sustainable Development, One Health & Agri-Food Chains, Some Introductory Thoughts 

           Wiltrud Terlau – IZNE/Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences

9:30 to 9:45    Food-borne pathogens: current scenario in Brazil

Bernadette Franco - FoRC/USP

9:45 to 10:00  The human gut microbiome as an antimicrobial resistance reservoir

Christian Hoffmann - FCF/USP

10:00 to 10:15 Antibiotics in the milk production chain

Viviani Gomes - FMVZ/USP

10:15 to 10:25 Break for questions

10:25 to 10:40 Coffee break

10:40 to 11:05 Food Ethics

Roberta Souza - FEA/USP

11:05 to 11:15 Coffee production and Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS)

Roberta Souza - FEA/USP

11:15 to 11:30 Closed production chains (waste management)

Adriana Maroti - FEA/USP

11:30 to 11:40 Break for questions

11:40 to 11:55 Integrating Data to Track Infections

Helder Nakaya - FCF/USP

11:55 to 12:10 Machine learning: integrating existing and new data

Alexandre Chiavegatto - FSP/USP

12:10 to 12:20 Break for questions

12:20 to 12:30 Morning wrap up

12:30 to 14:30 Lunch

14:40 to 16:30 Focus group/Discussion: proposals based on the potential identified




Timo Falkenberg

Dr. Timo Falkenberg