World Society for the Protection of Animals

World Society for the Protection of Animals

November 15, 2005 05:59 ET

New farming report calls for urgent safeguards to health and welfare

Attention: Agriculture Editor, Assignment Editor, Environment Editor, News Editor, World News Editor TORONTO, ON--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 15, 2005) - Human health could be affected on an unprecedented scale unless there is rapid and effective legislation to reverse the growth of factory farming, according to a new scientific report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).

The publication of the report - 'Industrial Animal Agriculture - the next global health crisis?' - is particularly timely as fears continue to rise over avian flu and other zoonotic diseases that can jump the species barrier from animals to humans.

Explains Pat Tohill, WSPA's Campaigns Manager in Canada: "News that two poultry workers had acquired avian flu in BC's Frasier Valley in 2004 led to the slaughter of 17 million chickens, turkeys and ducks. And this is hardly the most virulent strain of Avian Influenza. The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain has killed dozens of people in South East Asia and the chance that it could appear here is very real. And the horrible truth is that avian flu is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to danger posed to human and animal health as a result of modern factory farming."

The report describes industrial animal agriculture as a 'launch pad' for avian flu, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Nipah virus. It also predicts that as industrial agriculture continues to move into tropical environments, the risk of such diseases will further increase.

"Much is at stake if we fail to ensure the health and welfare of the animals that we farm," explains Leah Garcés, WSPA's International Director of Campaigns and co-author of the report. "The risks of diseases such as BSE, salmonellosis and other forms of food poisoning, as well as antibiotic resistance to superbugs, are as great a risk to human health in the long-term as avian flu is at present."

She adds: "Intensive farming practices that have become the subject of increasing controversy and legislation in Europe and North America are being exported into the developing world. This is causing widespread suffering to farm animals, as well as presenting an increasing disease risk to animals and humans alike. We need to stop this cruelty in its tracks if we are to have a fighting chance of preventing further disease outbreaks."

Factory farming remains the fastest growing method of animal production worldwide, with developing countries set to become the world's leading producers of meat by 2020. However, the crowded and often unsanitary conditions in factory farms can make ideal breeding grounds for disease.

WSPA is calling on the World Health Organisation and other public health institutes to ensure that policy advice does not promote or otherwise encourage the growth of industrial animal agriculture. Today's report calls for industrial animal agriculture to be phased out in favour of more humane and sustainable farming techniques, on public health and animal welfare grounds. WSPA's recommendations include a halt to the expansion of factory farms, the adoption of humane and sustainable forms of farming and a global ban on the use of antibiotic growth promoters and production enhancing hormones.
/For further information: WSPA's report "Industrial Animal Agriculture- the next global health crisis?" is available online at http://www.wspa.ca/reports/nextglobalcrisis_full.pdf (Note: this is a 5MB file and may take several minutes to download.)

For printed reports and/or interviews contact:
Pat Tohill, Campaigns Manager, Canadian Regional Office, WSPA
416 369 0044 office 416 898 9448 mobile

Leah Garcés, Director of Campaigns, WSPA International
011 44 207 587 5010/ IN: AGRICULTURE, ENVIRONMENT, INTERNATIONAL

Contact Information

  • Pat Tohill, Campaigns and Communications Manager, World Society for the Protection of Animals
    Primary Phone: 416-898-9448
    Secondary Phone: 416-369-0044
    Toll-Free: 800-363-9772
    E-mail: tohill@wspa.ca