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The current pandemic shows that we can ‘no longer ignore the risks’ animal farming poses to public health, according to an advocate.

The COVID-19 outbreak is widely believed to have originated from a wet market in Wuhan, China, towards the end of 2019. The virus has since killed more than 500,000 people globally.

The virus, which is zoonotic, has led many leading health experts to point out the risks of animal exploitation. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 75 percent of recent infectious diseases affecting humans began in animals – leading for calls to change the way animals are treated to reduce risk.

‘Dangerous risks’

Now Lindsay Duncan, campaigns manager for World Animal Protection, has joined the chorus of voices calling for a rethink of animals are treated. In a statement sent to Plant Based News, Duncan, said the current pandemic offers ‘yet another reason we need to change our relationship with animals, not only for their welfare, but our health’.

She added: “We can no longer ignore the dangerous risks we are exposed to as a result of exploiting animals. 

“Factory farming systems, where billions of animals and humans interact, have always been a hotbed for disease, some of which can affect humans. At least 60 percent of emerging infectious diseases involve animals, and this pandemic won’t be the last.”

‘Rethink the food system’

She added that every year around 50 billion animals are raised globally on factory farms, saying this causes ‘mass suffering where they can’t move freely or behave naturally, and are living in cramped, high-stress conditions perfect for disease spread and mutation’.

“We need to rethink our food system if we want to avoid future pandemics. We can achieve food and job security without further intensification of livestock farming,” she concluded.