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75% of new and emerging infectious diseases are Zoonotic (come from animals)

"If you actually want to create global pandemics, then build factory farms."


Avian influenza, carried by migrating wild birds, has swept across Canada. The outbreak has been especially concerning to owners and operators of large chicken farms

Ask an expert what level of risk this avian flu outbreak poses for human health and they will likely say the risk is low... Ask that same expert what the chances are for another influenza pandemic in the next few years and they will likely say the risk is high.


Why unprecedented bird flu outbreaks sweeping the world are concerning scientists

A highly infectious and deadly strain of avian influenza virus has infected tens of millions of poultry birds across Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. But scientists are particularly concerned about the unprecedented spread in wild birds — outbreaks pose a significant risk to vulnerable species, are hard to contain and increase the opportunity for the virus to spill over into people.


Farmed birds are an excellent amplifier for bird flu transmission

“This virus is so good because it ping-pongs back and forth between wild and domestic,” Dr. Hill said. “There is no better way to amplify a virus than taking a wild reservoir and domesticating a close relative. That’s exactly what we’ve done with chickens and ducks. Highly pathogenic forms of the virus only happen when the virus goes into agricultural animals.”

Scientists strive to stop animal diseases from igniting the next pandemic:

'The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimated in 2016 that up to 75% of emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic…. human behavior has increased conditions for people to catch diseases from animals and accelerate the spread of infections, …..The reasons for the growing risk include the expansion of human development (such as suburban sprawl) and activity (such as deforestation) into the territories of wild animals; climate change, which is forcing animals to migrate into areas populated by people; the globalization of trade, including of animals and animal meat for consumption; urbanization, which is squeezing people and animals into denser living conditions; and more frequent and speedy human travel around the world."


Zoonosis emergence linked to agricultural intensification and environmental change

This review article describes how farm ventilation and waste management systems help facilitate the spillover of zoonotic diseases from farmed animals to wild animals, through the environment. It also gets specific about bird flu, and how it becomes more deadly when introduced to farmed birds: “Avian influenza is usually subclinical or of low pathogenicity in wild birds, but some strains may be highly pathogenic when introduced to domestic poultry.” Both factory (intensive) and small-scale/backyard (extensive) farms are responsible, as both “…can influence the likelihood of influenza virus spillover from wild birds to domestic birds and pigs and the subsequent evolution and amplification in domestic animals and transmission to humans. .... Low biosecurity rearing systems, such as scavenging poultry, household poultry, and small-scale commercial poultry, allow direct or indirect contact between wild and domestic birds … [and] the expansion of intensive livestock production, … particularly for … poultry and pigs, creates large high density populations in which there is an increased probability of adaptation of an introduced influenza virus and amplification for transmission between farms, to humans, and to wild animals”

Monkeypox Virus in Nigeria: Infection Biology, Epidemiology, and Evolution

Scientists raised the alarm on monkeypox 2 years ago, when it re-emerged in 2017-2019, calling it a “very serious re-emerging pathogen with global outreach”. Half of the factors they named as contributors to this 2017 resurgence involved increased human-animal contact: (1) “increased encroachment of the wildlife habits of human and non-human primates by humans due to urbanization and hunting, (2) “increased trade in rodents and other species of wildlife fueled by the increased demand for and consumption of barbequed rodents/wildlife mammals (referred to as ‘bush meat’)”, (3) “heavy rainfall and flooding that brought humans and monkeypox-infected animal host close together”, and (4) “increased contact between humans and potential animal reservoir hosts as a result of climate change and deforestation”.

A Public Health Ethics Case for Mitigating Zoonotic Disease Risk in Food Production

This article argues that governments in countries that currently permit intensive animal agriculture - especially but not exclusively high-income countries - are, in principle, morally justified in taking steps to restrict or even eliminate intensive animal agriculture to protect public health from the risk of zoonotic pandemics.

"If you actually want to create global pandemics, then build factory farms."

Dr. Michael Greger, Physician and public health Speaker

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