Scientists are particularly concerned about avian influenza since a deadly bird flu pandemic could quickly spread around the globe within months.

As a society, we keep trying to outrun and ignore the risks created by the exploitation of animals, despite the scientific, medical, and journalistic evidence that we and many others have presented over recent decades. Viruses are emerging in exponential ways, animals are suffering in greater numbers, people are getting sicker, and our environment is weeping with animal waste, agrochemicals, and pathogens that are resistant to antimicrobials. There are no true winners here.

The United States will breed, cage, and kill an estimated nine billion chickens in factory farms this year. In Europe, billions more are killed, and in Canada, an estimated 800 million are killed. These horrifying statistics are increasingly reflected across Africa, Asia, and South America. Globally, billions of chickens are made genetically similar by design, routinely and systematically packed together tightly, and deprived of natural lives. And the farms that are home to these individuals serve as a figurative petri dish for infectious diseases.

The H5N1 bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a highly pathogenic virus and is driven by factory farms globally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from January 2022 to April 2024, 48 US states have had outbreaks, and over 82 million chickens and turkeys have either died from bird flu or been killed to prevent its spread. In 2023, the US Department of Agriculture paid out over half a billion dollars to poultry producers who culled their flocks due to bird flu outbreaks on their farms. And just recently, the New York Times reported that the virus has now jumped to cows used in dairy production. As of April 1, 2024, two states had reported human cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza A.

Scientists are particularly concerned about avian influenza since a deadly bird flu pandemic could quickly spread around the globe within months. Researchers have already documented the virus’s resistance to some medicines used to treat influenza.

The global transition toward increased meat, egg, and dairy production – and intensification – is not only fuelling infectious, communicable diseases. It also fuels chronic, noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease and cancer—the two biggest killers of Americans. Nonetheless, the US government spends tens of billions of dollars each year to subsidize Big Ag, driving down the cost of a chicken sandwich to a fraction of its true cost while driving up related healthcare costs.

Almost every animal you can imagine is kept for human use, increasing the risk for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Between 60 and 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic in origin, and each year, zoonoses cause more than 2.5 million human deaths worldwide.

Where do these dead farmed animals and their waste go once killed, incinerated, or buried? Into our aquifers, air, soil, and food. Meanwhile, animal farming is also responsible for at least 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and 80 percent of deforestation. We need look no further than the daily floods, fires, and droughts to underscore how Big Ag impacts the health of the environment. And marginalized communities invaded by Big Ag bear the brunt of water, soil, and air pollution associated with factory farms.

What can you do about it?

First, see the reality of what is happening and demand transparency. Oppose Ag-gag legislation in nations such as the US, Canada, and Australia. Ag-gag laws prohibit journalistic documentation of what happens inside factory farms.

Next, support legislative reforms in other areas – such as the Farm Bill, a package of US legislation passed roughly every five years that has a tremendous impact on which types of farming are subsidized, what foods are produced, and how animals and people suffer or thrive as a result of our farm and food systems.

Choose a plant-based diet – for you and the animals. Plant-based diets reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and infectious diseases, and a plant-based diet produces roughly half the greenhouse gas emissions of a meat-based diet.

Elect leaders who care about these connections.

Finally, spread the word. The health and well-being of people, animals, and the planet are counting on it.

Original source: https://weanimalsmedia.org

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