Food and pandemics: Is intensive animal farming the most risky human behaviour?

Last month, ProVeg International released a report taking a look at pandemics– such as the current COVID-19– and the animal-based food system.According to the not-for-profit, which intends to halve global animal consumption by 2040, there is an’frequently overlooked connection ‘in between the 2. The report’s conclusion? That intensive animal farming is the’single most dangerous human behaviour ‘for pandemics.Yet Tamas Bakonyi, who directs the European Centre for Disease

Prevention and Control’s (ECDC )Food and Vector Borne Disease Program, believes animal farming is not ‘the single ‘, nor ‘the most crucial’ component.The European Livestock and Meat Trading Union has actually also contested the report’s findings.

“Blaming farming is … not the service,”Secretary General Karsten Maier told FoodNavigator.’Factory farms are perfect breeding premises for future pandemics’ProVeg’s

report concentrates on zoonotic diseases transferred from animals to human beings. COVID-19 is one such illness, as are SARS, MERS, Ebola, rabies, and particular forms of influenza.In truth, about 75% of all emerging contagious diseases in people are zoonoses.”Whether coming from wild animals, as is assumed

with COVID-19, or in farmed animals, as holds true with avian and swine influenza,they all posture severe dangers to private and international health– and currently trigger more casualties than diabetes and traffic mishaps integrated, “kept in mind the report.According to ProVeg, mounting proof recommends that the increase in zoonotic events is directly linked to human beings’ increasing interactions with animals, especially in terms of food sourcing.”Our hunger for meat, eggs, and dairy has brought us into ever-closer contact with both domesticated and wild animals by keeping much more of them in progressively confined areas and attacking a lot more of their habitats.”Together with the human adjustment of the environment, this increases the probability of infections jumping the types barriers, leading to brand-new zoonotic illness.”

COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, indicating it stemmed from an animal. Getty/wildpixel

The report goes on to list three human activities that increase the risk of zoonotic pandemics: the destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity; processing and consuming wild animals as food; and the farming, processing, and usage of domesticated animals as food.

“The dish for disaster is remarkably simple: one animal, one mutation, one human, and a single point of contact,” said ProVeg’s International Director and report author Jens Tuider. While the origins of COVID-19 have yet to be validated, there is ‘no uncertainty’ relating to swine flu and avian influenza. “Those viruses evolved on agriculture, where conditions are best for the development and transmission of viruses …“Agriculture are perfect reproducing grounds for future pandemics.” The report concludes that using animals as food– and heightened animal agriculture in specific– is the most risky human behaviour in relation to pandemics.ECDC: Animals

farming’certainly not ‘the single most dangerous behaviour ECDC’s Bakonyi agreeswith particular aspects of ProVeg’s report. As human populations grow, for example, so do does require for protein sources, and this results in more intensive farming practices.” These domesticated animals are

kept together in high population density, “he informed FoodNavigator.” If you compare this density [with that of] the ancestors of [laying hens] found in the jungle– where you would discover a couple of birds per square kilometre– to today’s commercial poultry farming, [you would observe] there are now tens of thousands of birds kept together in one stable.” So that provides a much greater possibility for the spread of pathogens … for

the spread of infections or salmonella … or for numerous of those representatives which consequently might trigger illness in humans.”Transmission from animals to people is’undoubtedly an important factor’, the food -and vector-borne specialist

continued, but global modifications need to be taken into consideration.The development of human populations also suggests that civilisation is expanding and people are inhabiting greater areas in nature.

“That increases the interface between individuals and wild animals,”stated Bakonyi.”And that provides the chance for an increased number of transmissions of animal diseases which did not have contact with humans prior to.” The break out of Ebola in West Africa is one such example. The infection is believed to have originated from bats or primates. Whichever the animal, a greater frequency of contact in between animals

and human beings means an elevated opportunity of human infection.

Ebola is likewise zoonotic in nature -believed to have actually infected people from bats or primates. Getty/Motortion

Growing populations and human density also suggests that when a virus contaminates a human, there is a greater chance of that agent being spread out within neighborhoods. Travel plays a considerable role here, and did so amidst the recent Ebola break out, Bakyoni described.

“The initial trigger can be that there is a transmission from wild animals to human beings, but [whereby] the agent is spreading out quickly, and internationally, [it can be] linked to human movement [such as] travelling, and in certain circumstances, travelling in groups.” COVID-19 is another strong example of this.The Food and Vector Borne Disease Programme lead concluded that’animals farming is absolutely not the single most dangerous [factor], citing ‘numerous other risky … activities, such as logging, land usage and other farming activities, and the transportation of goods’. Very first and foremost, ‘the extremely extensive travel of individuals’.

In the event that the virus is a pathogen which can trigger disease in human beings, and there is the capacity for human to human transmission, ‘then the most crucial and most significant human activity is … worldwide travel’, he continued. “Because it’s not the animals– not the wild animals or livestock– that are travelling all around the world, but individuals. And individuals are carrying and sending these agents.”“Animal farming is a crucial component, but it is not ‘the single’ and not even ‘the most crucial’ element”– Tamas Bakonyi, ECDC‘Blaming farming is not the solution’The European Livestock and Meat Trading Union(UECBV)likewise pointed to travel and growing human populations as danger factors.In a point of view written by Dennis Carroll et al. in 2018, published in a WHO Publication, the authors compose: “International trends show that brand-new microbial risks will continue to emerge at an accelerating rate, driven by our growing population, broadened travel and trade networks, and human advancement into wildlife habitat”. As UECBV’s Maier mentioned, this list ‘does not discuss farmed animals’. While the Secretary General yields that a considerable portion of contagious diseases are of zoonotic nature, he informed FoodNavigator it is

also true that most of these illness in human beings primarily originate in wildlife (e.g. Ebola, Zika, SARS, HIV etc). Further, risk-prone areas have actually been ‘clearly recognized’, and these are’normally forested, tropical regions, where wildlife biodiversity is high and there are changes in land usage’. “This is described as’environment advancement’, with human settlement, extraction markets, and uncontrolled agricultural expansion contributing’, Maier continued, mirroring points made by both ProVeg and Bakonyi.The International Animal Health Organization(OIE) identifies the duplicated introduction of zoonotic diseases and the linkages of some of these along the value chain of the wildlife trade, we were told.Given these associations, the Secretary General is encouraged that’pointing the finger at farming … is not the option’.” From our end, we must– and we

will– continue to develop and promote biosecurity and disease avoidance, supporting research, early detection and recognition as necessary systems, focusing on the right places.”