Ezra Taft Benson
SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
I SALUTE the workers in the biological sciences, among whom are our veterinarians. They are in the forefront in our relentless fight against animal diseases, some of which are linked closely to human health.
They have done much for us as individuals and as a Nation, as the chapters in this Yearbook prove.
Their efforts have helped greatly to reduce the risk and uncertainty in raising animals and poultry on our farms and ranches.
Poultry, dairy, beef, pork, and other livestock products provide nutrients that help us to be a strong, healthy, virile people. By their efforts to protect that production, the biological scientists have done much for our national health.
Another direct contribution to our health is their work to curb such diseases as anthrax, brucellosis, rabies, trichinosis, and tuberculosis, which people can get from animals.
Veterinarians have brought a great measure of prosperity over the years to our farmers and the industries that use and process the livestock products.
They have saved us countless dollars and spared us countless instances of inefficiency and loss of milk, eggs, and work time; loss in quality in meat, hides, and wool; morbidity and death among livestock, poultry, pet animals and birds, and wild animals.
They have enlarged our knowledge of zoology, pathology, parasitology, immunology, and other sciences that affect human life no less than the other forms of life.
I salute them also for the affirmative courage with which they face up to the challenges of the future.
They are the first to say that many gaps exist in their knowledge—the pages that follow contain examples of techniques that admittedly are less than perfect, of methods and diagnostic devices that need improvement, of diseases that remain to be conquered, of research that must be undertaken.
They have told me of a procedure that will help meet those lacks, and I mention and endorse it here: A challenge of the next 25 years lies in the ability of our colleges to produce scientists with a high specificity of knowledge and a sharpened desire to follow a career devoted to biological and veterinary research. That would suggest a greater specialization in restricted fields of inquiry during the training period. It should not be at the expense of training the general practitioner but rather in greater selectivity in choosing undergraduates—preferably those with a knowledge born of experience with animals—who show a deep desire to specialize and in providing additional graduate training for definitive fields of veterinary research. A part of the problem is that financial opportunities often favor the general practitioner, but the satisfaction of conducting research toward a solution of disease problems is great, and the work of advancing biological knowledge will develop basic facts that in turn will benefit the general practitioner.
Facilities for biological research have been improved greatly in the past few years, but they are not yet sufficient. As more scientists enter that field, more and better facilities will be needed. Facilities for the study of infectious disease must be good enough to prevent the transmission of diseases from experimental animals to other animals or—when the diseases are transmissible to people—to the laboratory workers. Such facilities are expensive.
The needed research may cost many millions of dollars. The results of the research may save hundreds of millions, for morbidity and mortality from infectious, noninfectious, and parasitic diseases still cause estimated losses of more than 2 billion dollars each year.