Factory farming a greater pandemic risk than consumption of exotic animals


ˇ         Because factory farmed animals are reared in an enclosed space, where their freedom of movement is severely restricted, their resistance to disease plummets

ˇ         This farming practice is also increasing drug resistance in humans


Danny Friedmann, South China Morning Post (China)

18 Jul, 2021


Friedmann is assistant professor at the Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen


What is the similarity between diseases such as Spanish flu, Ebola and severe acute respiratory syndrome? There is a high likelihood that all three diseases were caused by the spread of viruses from animals to humans.


However, humanity seems to have problems learning from historical facts. Those who have warned against the risks of a pandemic during the last 10 years have been ignored as modern-day Cassandras.


Certainly, the incursions of humans into nature and eating exotic animals are a serious cause of concern, not only with regard to endangering biodiversity but also exposing humans to new viruses. However, a bigger imminent and preventable risk of new pandemics is posed by factory farming. .


The purpose of factory farming is to make farming more efficient: instead of going to the animals to feed them and catch them for slaughter, they are brought all together in one place. But because factory farming puts the animals in an enclosed space, often where their freedom of movement is severely restricted, their resistance to disease plummets and their susceptibility to viral or bacterial contagion shoots up.


This is amplified by the genetic uniformity of the animals, since farmers favour the same growth patterns and sizes. And thus, if one animal gets ill, they all get ill. International transport increase the risk of contagion further.


Farmers today commonly use feed additives such as growth promoters and antibiotics, which cause drug resistance, not only in animals but in humans as well.


Besides the risk of pandemics, consuming meat, dairy and eggs tends to clutter the arteries of those consuming them and are also associated with increased risk of some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes.


Despite some efficiency gains by factory farming, the production of meat remains highly inefficient compared to plant-based and cell-cultured food...


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