28th January 2004; immediate use
End Factory Farming Before it Ends Us
Close contact between people and intensively farmed animals poses serious health threats,
claims the campaign group Viva! Avian flu is a potential risk to any country which has
encouraged and invested in the unsustainable growth in the factory farming of food animals - and
that includes Britain. It follows evidence that the deadly disease Sars (sudden acute
respiratory syndrome) resulted from contact with civet cats held in cramped cages in Chinese
The intensive industrial farming of livestock presents an opportunity for emerging diseases,
says Hans-Gerhard Wagner, a senior officer with the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.
It is these cramped and unhygienic conditions that can transform chickens and ducks into
veritable flu-making factories but the problem is not confined to South East Asia. Last year
there was a disastrous outbreak of avian flu in the Netherlands which resulted in the slaughter
of over nine million birds and prompted Dutch Agriculture Minister, Cees Veerman, to state that
the whole future of intensive farming in the Netherlands would need to be reviewed.
The World Health Organisation has warned that avian flu has the potential to be more serious
than the Sars virus, which emerged in 2003, if it mutates into a form which can pass from human
to human. The source of the current outbreak has yet to be confirmed but Southern China is seen
as the most likely suspect. It is no coincidence that China is the world's largest chicken
producer, with output tripling between 1990 -1998.
Viva! campaigner, Justin Kerswell, says: "Time and time again there is evidence that links
the wholly unnatural practice of intensive animal farming with human diseases. This latest virus
could - in the worst case scenario - devastate us all as we are likely to have little resistance
. Copying the US 'meat rich' diet has given birth to this terrifying explosion in intensive
farming - a practice that is not sustainable - and the unwelcome side effects we are now
beginning to see. The images of animal cruelty are on an unbearably epic scale - living
creatures being buried alive in a rush to stem the spread of this man-made disaster. The best
way to end animal suffering is not to eat them and it is the only sure way to defuse this
ticking time bomb. End factory farming - before it ends us!"
Contact: Justin Kerswell or Juliet Gellatley on 0117 944 1000 .