COVID-19 has contaminated greater than 500 million folks across the globe, and different transmissible zoonotic illnesses are additionally spreading, however largely out of public view. Behind the doorways of America’s manufacturing facility farms, 37 million birds have been killed because of a hen flu outbreak within the United States. The transmission of the illness to a jail inmate in Colorado in April who was working at a manufacturing facility farm reminds us that our lives are inextricably linked to the lives of different animals. We all share the identical earth and air, and we face related threats to our well being and wellbeing, whether or not within the type of ecological disaster just like the local weather disaster, the lack of biodiversity, or transmissible and sometimes lethal organic illnesses.
The present COVID pandemic and hen flu outbreaks ought to function a wakeup name. While our exploitation of animals is unethical, it may threaten our survival. Humans have all the time been vulnerable to animal-borne illnesses, whether or not throughout the plague within the Middle Ages or the pandemic of 1918 that killed 50 million folks. Our mass manufacturing of animals in manufacturing facility farms has exacerbated the danger. The novel pressure of the 2009 swine flu that contaminated round 60 million U.S. residents seemingly emerged on an industrial pig operation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that “3 out of each 4 new or rising infectious illnesses in folks come from animals.”
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Factory farms pack animals in filthy and demanding circumstances that, when mixed with irresponsible overuse of medication, contribute to the event and unfold of recent and extra virulent pathogens. Workers additionally endure beneath the oppressive hand of commercial agriculture. This was made clear throughout the COVID pandemic when massive numbers of slaughterhouse employees have been contaminated, inflicting slaughterhouse closures and provide chain backups that led to the extermination and disposal of tens of millions of livestock. A standard option to “depopulate” and kill these poor chickens and pigs is thru air flow shutdown, or VSD+, the place the temperature is heated up in manufacturing facility farm warehouses and animals die excruciatingly merciless deaths, suffocating over the course of hours. This was a standard methodology used when slaughterhouses have been closed due to COVID, and it’s getting used all around the nation now as hen flu sweeps by way of manufacturing facility farms.
While the business ought to be scrambling to stop hen flu from ravaging the billions of chickens and turkeys exploited by America’s poultry business, they’re incentivized to attend till their flocks are contaminated after which kill them in horrific methods together with VSD+, smothering them with fire-fighting foam, or gassing them to demise. During the final main hen flu outbreak, which occurred solely seven years in the past, the complete response effort price taxpayers roughly $850 million. Rather than appearing to stop future outbreaks, the USDA helps manufacturing facility farming and overcrowded circumstances which might be excellent for the unfold of illness.
We are actually dealing with evolving threats from COVID, hen flu, and different zoonotic illnesses. There are conflicting opinions about whether or not COVID-19 originated in an animal laboratory or at a stay animal market, however in both case, it is rooted within the methods we live out of alignment with animals and the pure world throughout the globe. We see the results of that misalignment so clearly in industrialized agriculture right here within the U.S. It’s inconceivable to know what transmissible illnesses and variants are lurking in our midst because of industrialized agriculture, however the proof is obvious that once we trigger hurt to different animals and our shared atmosphere, we additionally hurt ourselves. Infectious illness consultants and the World Health Organization have warned that illnesses like the present pressure of avian influenza that’s infecting domesticated poultry within the U.S. might spawn variants that result in a human influenza pandemic.
Government insurance policies should be up to date to limit irresponsible agricultural practices, and within the meantime every of us could make conscientious decisions day-after-day to assist make a distinction. A great way to start out is by leaving manufacturing facility farmed merchandise off of our plates.
Gene Baur is president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, America’s first farm animal sanctuary and advocacy group. Lauri Torgerson-White is an animal welfare scientist and analysis director at Farm Sanctuary.