A report has found that intensive chicken production in the UK provides the ideal environment for the next pandemic-level virus.
Animal charity Open Cages has partnered with scientists from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Winchester to publish a report identifying British factory-farmed chicken as a potential cause for the next pandemic.
Entitled ‘A British Pandemic: The Cruelty and Danger of Supermarket Chicken’, the report argues that UK supermarkets are to blame. This is because supermarkets choose these intensive farms as suppliers to keep prices low and competitive.
These farms use practices such as breeding for rapid growth and overcrowding as standard, which provides the perfect environment needed for zoonotic diseases to spread.
A comparison of major UK supermarkets showed that none of the big stores such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Co-op has taken steps to address the issue. The only exceptions were Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, who signed the Better Chicken Commitment for higher welfare standards by 2026.
‘Not only animals who will pay the price’
Open Cages CEO Connor Jackson said the findings of the report were ‘alarming’.
“For years we have been trying to work with British supermarkets to address the unacceptable cruelty in their chicken supply chain. But now, with the concerns of leading public health scientists, we cannot escape the fact that it is not only animals who will pay the price for their inaction.
“With every day that [supermarkets] fail to sign the Better Chicken Commitment, the safety of the British people and the animals under our care remain in danger. Not all retailers will take heed of this report’s warnings, so it will be crucial to see which ones do.”
Only a matter of time
Relying on animals as a food source is essentially a ticking time bomb. With 24 million chickens across the globe and the majority factory-farmed, bird flu outbreaks are emerging consistently. All it would take is one human to catch and spread the virus and the world as we know it could be over.
This is not the first time we have been warned about the risks of animal agriculture. Just a few months ago, a similar report named intensive animal farming as the ‘single most risky human behaviour’ for pandemics.
As Dr Michael Gregor, a plant-based doctor said: “it’s never a matter of if, but when.”
Last month, Leonardo DiCaprio urged his fans to support the ‘Preventing Future Pandemics Act’.
Read all about it right here on Vegan Food & Living.