The U.K government is under increasing pressure to ‘tell the truth’ about the links between animal farming and pandemics and to start ‘leading a transition towards a just, sustainable plant-based food system in order to prevent further global pandemics‘.
Campaigners from Extinction Rebellion sister group Animal Rebellion delivered an open letter to prime minister Boris Johnson highlighting that 75 percent of new infectious diseases are ‘zoonotic’, meaning that they are transmitted from animals to humans.
The letter was signed by T.V presenter and zoologist Megan McCubbin, as well as Animal Aid, Animal Justice Project, Animal Welfare Party, and animal advocacy organization Surge.
‘Untold suffering to millions’
“The COVID-19 tragedy has caused untold suffering to millions and future global pandemics, along with the climate emergency, represent public health threats of unprecedented magnitude,” says the letter.
“Yet, whilst Governments seek to stop the spread of the virus, they are failing to address its cause, which lies squarely at the feet of animal agriculture and exploitation.
“Scientists have warned for years that human exploitation of the natural world, our relentless encroachment into wildlife habitats, deforestation, the trade in wild animals and seismic global growth of intensive livestock farming is creating a perfect storm for the spillover of diseases from animals to people – 75 percent of new infectious diseases originate in animals and the risks are increasing, but Governments repeatedly ignore these warnings.”
Suzy Bond, a spokesperson for Animal Rebellion, added: “Governments around the world know that COVID-19 and other pandemics, such as HIV, SARS, and Ebola before it, were caused by our relentless exploitation of animals. But they still stay silent, seeking a swift return to business-as-usual, all the while creating carnage in the natural world.
“COVID-19 is linked to the consumption of wild animals, but domestic livestock farming presents just as much risk.
“Every day 200 million land animals are slaughtered worldwide, whilst in the UK, we slaughter over a billion animals a year. 99 percent of these animals are cruelly confined within factory farms; their immune systems damaged by disease, antibiotics and stress.”
The letter also notes that these industrial factories are ‘hotspots for the outbreak and their continued use is putting workers’ health at risk’. Slaughterhouses in countries around the world have seen infection rates exceed cases among those who do not work in slaughterhouses.