In this file:
· Europe must resist attempts to use coronavirus as a Trojan horse against animal agriculture
· US OpEd: COVID-19 may accelerate changes to the meatpacking industry
Europe must resist attempts to use coronavirus as a Trojan horse against animal agriculture
By Professor Hans Nauwynck, Opinion, Euronews
Opinions expressed in View articles are solely those of the authors.
Of all the businesses and enterprises impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, Europe’s farms are among the most vulnerable – and the most essential. At a time when demand for safe, affordable food is spiking, the pandemic has restricted access to agricultural workers, as well as disrupting processing operations on livestock farms.
And on top of these pressures, farmers are also facing attempts to use COVID-19 to influence EU policy and undermine animal agriculture by falsely linking the outbreak with modern farming practices, which are often maligned and poorly understood.
From a business perspective, this is unhelpful, but from a scientific perspective, this is entirely misguided. Coronavirus - like SARS, Ebola and almost three quarters of infectious, animal-borne diseases - was not created on a farm, but most likely originated in wildlife.
In fact, early results indicate that neither pigs, chickens nor ducks can be infected with COVID-19, meaning that domesticated livestock are highly unlikely to be the route through which coronavirus reached people. Rather, livestock farms and farmers are more likely to be the victims of emerging diseases than the cause, and they manage these threats on a daily basis, making recent calls to limit livestock production unnecessary and counter-productive.
Early results indicate that neither pigs, chickens nor ducks can be infected with COVID-19, meaning that domesticated livestock are highly unlikely to be the route through which coronavirus reached people.
Professor Hans Nauwynck
Preventative veterinary medicine, such as vaccines, and biosecurity measures - indoor confinement, for instance - are increasingly effective at keeping animals across Europe safe from both existing and emerging diseases. In some ways, veterinary medicine has enjoyed greater success than human medicine at tackling disease, given many of these protective steps are easier to implement for animals than for humans, precisely because livestock are kept in numbers and in uniform conditions.
Moreover, animal-source foods like meat, milk and eggs offer many benefits in terms of energy and nutrients as part of a balanced diet, and, in Europe at least, their safety is almost guaranteed thanks to rigorous animal health standards.
At the heart of Europe’s success in managing animal disease risk in recent years is vaccination, which can be carried out en masse to have maximum impact and produce herd immunity. Vaccination has allowed most European countries to control prevalent and endemic diseases, like porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome and porcine circovirus-associated diseases.
Human medicine can learn a lot from the way the livestock industry screens animals and compartmentalises regions to limit the spread of disease, only allowing movement of animals within an area designated as disease-free.
Professor Hans Nauwynck
And, with additional biosecurity measures including improved hygiene and decontamination processes, it has even been possible to eradicate viruses like Aujeszky’s disease and hog cholera. When it comes to new animal diseases emerging from wild animals, such as African swine fever or avian flu, housing animals indoors with filtered ventilation systems can protect them from interactions with wildlife and the associated disease risk. Whilst this approach is often unfairly criticised, keeping animals indoors can be essential for protecting their health and well-being, in the same way that the lockdown has been vital for protecting people against coronavirus...
COVID-19 may accelerate changes to the meatpacking industry
Andy Douglas, Writers's Group
via Iowa City Press-Citizen (IA) - May 18, 2020
Thousands of workers at slaughterhouses across Iowa have contracted coronavirus, leading to community spread and a spike in COVID-19 cases. Waterloo, Perry, Columbus Junction and other cities saw rapid case growth. This mirrors the situation around the country.
When the extent of infection became apparent, executives at corporations like Tyson were quick to lobby President Donald Trump, concerned about their liability for worker deaths. And Trump stepped up, wielding the Defense Production Act, declaring meat an "essential" business, necessary to the nation’s food supply, so that these centers could remain open.
Meanwhile, employees are asked to go back to work and face more exposure. Even before this outbreak, meatpacking was considered the nation’s most dangerous job. For years, workers have complained of inhumane treatment. Now they are facing possible death because Americans cannot go without their burgers and pork chops.
Jonathan Safran Foer writes in the Washington Post, “An in-depth report by Oxfam documents that, for years, workers in U.S. poultry slaughter plants — including those operated by Tyson Foods, Sanderson Farms, Perdue and Pilgrim’s Pride — commonly wear adult diapers or simply urinate on themselves because bathroom breaks are routinely denied by supervisors under threats of retribution. The industry has continued such cruel practices with relative impunity, because workers are too dependent on their jobs to effectively resist unscrupulous managers, and the public has continued to underwrite the abuse.”
Can a connection be drawn between the intrinsic cruelty of this business, and its treatment of employees?
Many workers at these plants are immigrants. The work — killing, slicing up and packaging animals — is exhausting and disgusting and most Americans don’t want to do it.
The scale of the operations, speed demanded of the worker, and their close proximity to each other compounds the problem. It’s another example of large corporations placing profits above worker safety and environmental impact.
And now, because of the COVID crisis, a "bottleneck of supply" exists, leading to the "culling" (killing) of animals by producers. The pile-up of bodies is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Many members of the public have expressed dismay over the "senseless waste."
All this begs two questions. One, will the public wake up to the human cost of our business-as-usual food chain? And two, if we’re concerned about the suffering of animals, why not stop killing them for food?
The dots are there for us to connect.
Many of the deadly viruses surfacing in the world in recent years, such as swine and avian flu, were spawned in animal-related operations, from wet markets to confinement operations. “Of the 16 strains of novel influenza viruses that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified as being of highest concern,” Foer notes, “all but two converted to human viruses in commercial poultry farms.”
Confined animal feed operations (CAFOs), the origin point of the industry, are notorious for their environmental impacts, affecting water, air, soil, and local quality of life. As well as, of course, the daily suffering and ultimate fate of the animals. Efforts by environmental groups to impose a moratorium on opening more CAFOs in Iowa are ongoing. In fact, Hardin County just refused permits for two new CAFOs.
As for the slaughterhouses, the League of United Latin American Citizens has called for Meatless Mondays to protest corporations’ callous disregard for workers’ safety.
I would go further, and advocate for "Meatless Lives."
After all, humans get adequate protein eating a variety of whole plant food...