Factory farming 'creates a cocktail for a deadly virus', according to a leading plant-based doctor.
Dr. Michael Greger has a background in infectious disease and is an internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. He is the author of Bird Flu: A Virus Of Our Own Hatching, which looks at infectious diseases and human's role in them. His latest book is How To Survive A Pandemic.*
He made the comments while promoting a new campaign launched by advocacy organization Open Cages called Ban Factory Farms, which calls on the U.K. government to outlaw the practice in a bid to protect public health.
'A cocktail for a deadly virus'
"If you want to create catastrophic pandemics, then build factory farms. When you cram thousands of chronically stressed animals into crowded, filthy, indoor facilities, you create a cocktail for a deadly virus," Dr. Greger said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"COVID-19 has shown us how devastating an animal-born outbreak can be. But the best way for a Government to properly protect its people against future pandemics, is to end factory farming. I urge the UK Government to take steps to do so immediately, and responsibly address this crisis waiting to happen."
Factory farming and doctors
Dr. Greger's support of this campaign follows a group of U.K. doctors blasting factory farming and its role in disease transmission. Dr. Gemma Newman – also known as the Plant Powered Doctor – who is a senior partner at a UK medical practice spoke out about the facilities last month, while supporting the No Meat May initiative.
Dr. Newman said that while some politicians and commentators blame China for Covid-19, they do not mention that all of the recent major disease outbreaks 'have been caused by tampering with animals and their habitats' - or that eating meat presents a public health risk.
She added: "Our industrial-scale factory farms are like a ticking time bomb – yet I can guarantee that lentils will not spark a viral pandemic anytime soon. Many of us are sitting at home wondering what we can do to help this situation.
"Taking some time to reflect on what we eat, limiting the meat we put in our supermarket trolley, and shifting to a more plant-based diet will help us move towards a safer future. Signing up to the campaign is a lovely way to feel supported in reducing meat consumption moving forwards."
'Perfect conditions for the generation of novel infections'
Also speaking as a supporter of No Meat May, Dr. Shireen Kassam, founder of non-profit organization Plant Based Health Professionals UK and a consultant hematologist, added that there is an 'urgent need to reduce meat consumption globally for both human and planetary health' and that more than 90 percent of the meat we consume is produced the types of industrial-scale factory farms that provide the perfect conditions for the generation of novel infections with epidemic and pandemic potential.
She said: "In addition, intensive farming of animals necessitates the widespread use of antibiotics, which has contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of antibiotic-resistant infections affecting humans. We have now entered an era where it is not uncommon for doctors to find themselves treating patients with bacterial infections for which there are no effective antibiotics."
'Overcrowded, filthy conditions'
A major issues, says Open Cages, is that 70 percent of all farmed animals in the UK are reared in factory farms - which means they are subjected to the 'overcrowded, filthy conditions' that pose such a threat to public health.
Connor Jackson, CEO of Open Cages, added: "Animals are not machines, and yet that’s how we treat them. The British public is beginning to see that the animals we consume live in filthy, overcrowded factories where life is not worth living.
"And to top it all off, factory farms are no good for humanity at all. Let’s be world leaders and have the courage to work together after COVID-19. Let’s build a better future for all and ban factory farms."
*How To Survive A Pandemic is available on Kindle and in audiobook format, and in paperback from August 20.