Written by: Sarah Novak | June 16, 2020
When the Animal Agriculture Alliance and the American Feed Industry Association were approached to sign onto a letter on the value of animal agriculture, neither group hesitated to fully support this initiative. We needed to say with one, loud voice – animal agriculture is not to blame for the coronavirus pandemic and in fact, we may offer an important part of the solution.
When the coronavirus crisis began, we expected some animal rights organizations and journalists with an agenda would claim that if people only gave up meat, poultry and dairy in their diets, we wouldn’t be in this situation today. While the precise origin of COVID-19 remains under investigation, the ongoing research continues to confirm that domestic livestock production is not only safe, but it has not played a role in the disease’s spread.
Without livestock and poultry production, we would not have milk and ice cream, hamburgers, BBQ or fried chicken, but the reach goes beyond that. Think about the manure that is used for fertilizing crops or in some cases, energy, or even human medicine like early insulin production or heart valve replacements. Or, consider the 1.3 billion people worldwide who depend on livestock for their employment (cows are even helping out with COVID-19 antibody research!). Not only does animal agriculture nourish the world, it also helps to keep it healthy and it is a vibrant part of the worldwide economy. Completely eliminating it does not make sense.
So how can livestock and poultry offer a solution? The letter explains:
“Livestock diseases are monitored globally to help prevent them from spreading across borders the way that COVID-19 has done, and advances in farm and facility practices, animal nutrition, veterinary diagnostics and medicine mean many zoonotic diseases, such as Salmonella, are well managed in most economies. Using these learnings to develop more robust early warning systems for wildlife could enhance our ability to detect emerging diseases.”
I’m proud to report, 75 individuals and organizations from around the world, including AFIA, signed onto the open letter. There are university experts from the United States, New Zealand, Canada and the EU to global groups such as the International Feed Industry Federation, World Veterinary Association and the International Livestock Research Institute.
Today’s livestock and poultry production may have some ideas and solutions to prevent the next global pandemic. It should not be laid to blame for the cause of today’s COVID-19 spread.