Industrial animal agriculture – the next global health crisis?

“Industrial animal agriculture – the next global health crisis?” is a call for attention from the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA). With this document, WSPA seeks to alert the World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health institutes to “take immediate steps to reverse the growth of industrial animal agriculture, especially in regions where this production is set to dominate” (i.e. Asia, Latin America and Africa). As a virologist involved in research at a National Public Health Institute, I have read this draft report with great interest. I see merit in this report, in that it lists a number of important health issues arising from the ever-increasing demand for animal protein and the direct consequence of this, namely the increasing scale of industrial animal agriculture. My direct involvement is with zoonotic infections, i.e. infections that can jump from animals to humans. During a recent expert consultation of the WHO, several recommendations were drafted which are relevant for this topic. The WHO called for involvement of non-traditional partners in improving preparedness for human health hazards arising from the animal world.

The mission of WSPA differs from that of the institutes that it addresses, and therefore recommendations for action will not necessarily be shared. What is important, however, is to not discard the message underneath, namely a joint concern for the consequences of the increasing demand for animal protein to human and animal health. That should be a good starting point for discussion.

Source: Marion Koopmans, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, The Netherlands

E-mail address Boglet
June 7, 2005

Original web page at WSPA