Could the next pandemic come from industrial agriculture? – The Oxford student

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Image Description: Chickens reared in battery cages

Last December, a new strain of bird flu raised concerns on a Russian industrial farm. The chickens began to collapse and die, and within days 900,000 birds were quickly killed to prevent the spread of this strain known as H5N8. As avian influenza is a constant concern in the animal agriculture industry and various strains have spread in chicken, duck and turkey farms in nearly 50 countries, this was the first time that humans had the disease.

Given that this was at the height of the Covid 19 pandemic, it is not surprising that the WHO and the media paid little attention to this incident, but various professionals fear that it is just one matter of time until human-to-human transmission becomes possible.

keeping animals in stressful and cramped environments facilitates the spread of infectious diseases and endangers human health.

There are now at least eight variants of bird flu that can both infect and kill humans and have the potential to do even more damage than Covid-19. This is ultimately not surprising. The 2009 swine flu pandemic was attributed to a virus spread between intensively farmed pigs. Q fever in Europe and Australia began to spread to humans after initial transmission in goat farms. BSE, SARS, and different variants of bird flu can also all be attributed to factory farming. Beyond the obvious suffering caused to farm animals raised under these conditions, keeping animals in stressful and cramped environments facilitates the spread of infectious diseases and endangers human health.

The reality is that 73% of the meat produced in this country is factory-farmed.

Most animal consumers in this country seem convinced that welfare standards in the UK are incredibly high and that farms here are unlikely to breed disease. The reality is that 73% of the meat produced in this country is factory-farmed. The typical UK raised and slaughtered chicken will have more oven space when dead than when alive. Even the so-called “free-range” chickens raised here will often live their short lives without ever being outside.

These animals have been selectively bred to the point where they gain weight so quickly that they end up being unable to walk and spend their lives sitting in their own feces. Sick, injured and dead animals are routinely left too long on the floors of these factory farms, which undoubtedly further facilitates the spread of disease. Antibiotics are routinely administered not only to sick farm animals, but to all animals living in these inhumane conditions.

Excessive use of antibiotics in farm animals means that the diseases they develop tend to be resistant to conventional treatments, leading to an increase in “superbugs” which are incredibly difficult to treat. Factory-farmed animals are kept on a low level of antibiotics for much of their lives, which means that any diseases that spread among them will be resistant to many conventional remedies. Globally, 73% of antibiotics are used in farm animals rather than humans, in an attempt to compensate for the conditions in which they are kept, which are very conducive to the spread of disease. This overuse poses a legitimate threat to future human health as it contributes to higher levels of antibiotic resistance in some human infections. A “post-antibiotic era” in which common infections and diseases can lead to death is of real concern for our future as various antibiotics are already failing.

Another outbreak of a different strain in China has raised concerns in recent weeks as more than half of those infected, most of whom worked with farmed birds, died from exposure to the strain. Human-to-human transmission has yet to occur, but the WHO and Chinese virologists are concerned and have called for greater vigilance from governments to prevent these diseases from affecting humans.

The loss of wild areas to animal agriculture is currently the main cause of mass extinction of wildlife.

We are running out of time to fix things. Research on the impact of the livestock industry on health, environment and animal welfare paints a very clear picture of the damage caused. Animal agriculture is the main contributor to greenhouse gas emissions after climate change and eliminating animals and animal products from your diet continues to be the most important way to reduce your environmental impact on the world. planet. The loss of wild areas to animal agriculture is currently the main cause of mass extinction of wildlife. Even the most environmentally friendly meat and dairy products cause far more damage to the environment than the worst plant-based options.

Animal husbandry is a waste of water and land, and human and animal lives are cut short due to a lack of environmental and welfare legislation. Waiting for governments to step in and improve conditions or for industry itself to prioritize the well-being, human health and the health of our planet is a naive and reckless approach to the problem, given that the animal farming is an incredibly profitable industry that depends on consumers. be oblivious or indifferent to the negative impacts of their meat consumption on humans and other animals.

Refusing to fully fund these industries and sharing information about the global damage animal farming is doing to our health, our planet, and the animals we share it with is the least we can do to protect our future and attempt to remedy. centuries of abuse, mismanagement and unnecessary violence inflicted on hundreds of billions of animals.

Image credits: PVKavya via Wikimedia Creative Commons

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