Why WHO should address industrial animal farming
In May 2017, the World Health Assembly will elect the next Director-General of the World Health Organization. We call on the organization’s new leader to recognize industrial animal farming as a challenge for global health.
Although previous attempts to tackle factory farming have been largely framed around animal welfare or environmental concerns, we believe that curbing factory farming is also central to global health.
Read the full letter here.
Nearly 300 experts in global health, medicine, biology, policy, climate research have signed the letter. See the full list of signatures here.
The challenges industrial animal farming pose for human health include:
→ Antibiotic resistance
700,000 people die each year of diseases resistant to antibiotics. Factory farms contribute to the rise of drug resistance in humans by their use of antibiotics to keep animals alive and increase productivity.
→ Climate change
WHO estimates that climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths each year between 2030 and 2050. Nearly 20% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the livestock sector, a larger contributor than transportation. In addition, the livestock industry contributes to extensive deforestation to graze animals and grow feed-crops.
→ Chronic diseases
Dramatic changes in human diets, made possible by the industrial animal farming, are contributing to the rising burden of chronic diseases. High meat consumption has been linked to increased risks for several types of cancer, stroke, obesity, cardiovascular mortality, lung disease and diabetes.