Bill Maher has blasted factory farms - branding them 'just as despicable as wet markets'.
The comic made the comments during his Real Time With Bill Maher show over the weekend, in a segment uploaded onto YouTube titled America's Wet Markets.
A wet market in Wuhan, China, is believed to be the source of COVID-19, which has spread globally, killing more than 207,000 people at the time of writing.
Wet markets and factory farms
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, wet markets have made headlines around the world, with a number of individuals and organizations calling for their closure.
But according to Maher, factory farms should also be facing the same scrutiny. Speaking during the show, he said: "Two weeks ago I called out China for reopening its wet markets and miraculously, people from both sides of the aisle reached out to say 'good for you for saying that'.
"Well here’s another hot take that may not be as popular. America’s factory farming is just as despicable as a wet market and just as problematic for our health.
"Factory farms have a lot more lobbyists, but ecological timebombs tick the same. Americans should not get too high and mighty about wet markets while we are doing this."
Factory farming and diseases
Maher goes on to point out that 'most, if not all infectious diseases are zoonotic, meaning they start in animals, and jump to humans'. He cites AIDS and Mad Cow as examples.
He adds: "To thwart the coronavirus, we’ve been told to create distance, avoid others who are sick, lower stress, and exercise. Are you surprised that diseases flourish among animals when they are forced to live in conditions that are the complete opposite of all of that?
"They are on top of each other, they can't move, they're stressed out, I've seen airports treat luggage better than we treat animals. Egg laying hens are starved, and given no water for weeks, to shock their bodies into molting, beaks of chickens are removed. I could go on...
"If you think the market in Wuhan is gross, you should visit one of our giant poultry processing factories. But of course you can't, because we have AG-GAG laws that make it a crime to report the crime. And it is a crime of animal abuse that goes on in our food industry."