Closing wet markets will not be enough to prevent pandemics, say Joachin Phoenix and Rooney Mara in a recent opinion editorial. We need to stop factory farming.
The vegan/animal rights community is lucky to have the high-profile celebs who use their influence to be a voice for animals.
In their Washington Post editorial Phoenix and Mara state that while animal markets such as the one in Wuhan that gave rise to Covid-19 are common in China, they are also found throughout the US, including 80 of them within New York City alone. The couple state that more commonplace threats to public health are the more than 15,000 CAFOS ‘concentrated animal feeding operations’ (factory farms) scattered throughout the US. As well as posing environmental threats and risks to human health in the disposal of effluent in their communities, they are hot houses for the proliferation of disease.
A US Pig CAFO
“These factory farms warehouse thousands of animals that wallow in their own waste with limited or no airspace. [This] routinely [creates] conditions for the proliferation of superbugs and zoonotic pathogens…”
“The unsanitary living conditions inside CAFOs weaken animals’ immune systems and increase their susceptibility to infection and disease. The factory farms’ response has been to pump the animals full of antibiotics that make their way into our food supply and onto our dinner plates, systematically fostering in humans a lethal resistance to the medicines that once quelled everyday infections. Such practices have brought humanity to the point that the WHO now estimates that more than half of all human diseases emanate from animals.”
Phoenix and Mara state that we must probe our role in the emergence of a growing number of diseases that have come about as a result of our impositions on the animal kingdom and the environment:
”This probe cannot end with bats, monkeys, pangolins and other exotic wildlife supposedly to blame for recent contagions. It should encompass all of the supporting industries that contribute to the debilitation of communities, our susceptibility to illnesses and our complete defenselessness in their wake. A real public-health reckoning would have us reshape our patterns of consumption, curbing our dependence on animal products. A bacteria-infested (and inhumane) food supply makes people sick.”
Covid 19 has brought about awareness of zoonoses, and the significant health risks they pose for humans, animals, and the planet. We need to listen to Phoenix and Mara, who urge us to apply the same energy we have put into overcoming the virus to help dismantle the industries that are both so cruel to animals, and a hothouse for future disease outbreaks.
Sandra Kyle is an animal activist, and the owner of the website End Animal Slaughter