The UK government is facing a legal challenge over factory farming over pandemic and climate concerns.
A group of campaigners has created a legal team, spearheaded by human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield QC.
Non-profit Humane Being is behind the Scrap Factory Farming campaign – which has already raised £25,000 for legal proceedings to ban factory farming in the UK.
It aims to raise a further £35,000 and has set up a crowdfunding page.
Factory farming pandemic threat
Last year, lawyers acting for Humane Being wrote to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It queried the government’s plans regarding factory farming and related threats to human health.
However, the organization says Defra’s response ‘played down’ the issues linked to factory farming. Now, a last chance ‘letter before action’ has been issued to Defra today.
If Humane Being is unsatisfied with the response, the challenge may proceed to court.
Campaigners claim scrapping factory farming is ‘crucial’ to stop the spread of zoonotic diseases that can result in a pandemic, as well as to meet environmental targets as set out in the Paris Agreement.
They say banning the practice is a ‘vital part of the solution’ to problems such as deforestation, animal welfare, and antibiotic resistance.
‘The perfect breeding ground for disease’
In a statement sent to PBN, David Finney, a spokesperson for Scrap Factory Farming, said: “We’re sitting on a pandemic timebomb.
“Three out of every four new and emerging diseases in people come from animals.
“Factory farming is the perfect breeding ground for these diseases: huge numbers of animals in cramped and filthy conditions.
“We may get control of COVID-19. But, we are doing nothing about the conditions that created it in the first place. Another pandemic is just waiting to happen.”
‘Climate and environmental emergencies’
Fellow campaigner, Robert Gordon, added: “Scrapping factory farms is also vital if we are to tackle the climate and environmental emergencies.
“Globally, around 15 percent of greenhouse gases are from animal farming. Soya from South America is fed to UK factory farmed animals and the UK Climate Change Committee are recommending that we eat a healthy diet, with less beef, lamb, and dairy.”
Lorna Hackett is Barrister for Hackett & Dabbs LLP, the law firm acting for Humane Being. She said it is ‘imperative’ the government recognize that reliance on animal products produced by intensive means has environmental and health implications.
“Now, at this grueling time in our nation’s and indeed mankind’s history… It’s more important than ever to safeguard human health, reduce environmental impact, protect and have compassion for animals, and of course to reduce the risk of a further pandemic,” Hackett explained.
“The recent multiple outbreaks of avian influenza in this country further demonstrate that we need to take such risks extremely seriously.
“This case, which we believe to be a global first, starts with a key mitigator; the banning of cruel factory farming.
“Factory Farming breeds and risks incidences of disease, posing a health risk that the authorities cannot continue to ignore.”
GOT star Jerome Flynn
Scrap Factory Farming has also grabbed the attention of celebrity actor Jerome Flynn – who is now an ambassador for the campaign.
The Game Of Thrones star said: “In these extraordinary dystopian days, the simple act of banning Factory Farming, would have a profound effect globally.
“Not only towards the restoration of our planet’s ecosystems and the very balance of Life on earth, not only in reducing the enormous scale of untold suffering inflicted upon our beloved animal cousins… It would, I believe, also create an immeasurable wave of positive energy across the globe as we release ourselves and our Mother planet from the horrific consequences of an industry that completely disregards the preciousness of all life.
“It’s starkly clear to me that there cannot be a future for mankind in a world where factory farms still exist. This is our time now to put things right; this is our time to come back to Life.”
‘Another deadly pandemic’
Health experts are also backing the campaign, including Dr. Shireen Kassam – founder of Plant-Based Health Professionals.
She said: “Factory farming is not only a risk to planetary health but also to public health.
“With three out of four infectious diseases being zoonotic and originating from animals… Factory farms pose a serious risk and potential to cause another deadly pandemic.”
Dr. Shireen Kassam then added: “Eating animals is unnecessary for individual health. However, a whole food plant-based diet has been proven to have numerous health benefits, including minimizing the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
“These same conditions are increasing the risk of a poor outcome from COVID-19. We support Humane Being’s legal challenge to call for an end to factory farming to protect personal, public, planetary, and animal health.”