Author: Francis Vergunst and Patrick Birkl

An Open Letter to the WHO—Industrial Animal Farming Must End

“Unprecedented and rising levels of industrial animal farming are undermining the highest attainable standard of health that is WHO’s mandate” Every year more than 55 billion land animals are raised and killed for food around the world. Most are reared in industrial factory farms in circumstances that harm human health and the environment in significant ways. Worldwide livestock production is expected to more than double between 2001 and 2050, an increase that will undermine the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) aim of achieving the highest standards of global health. Next month, as a new Director General takes over the WHO leadership, an open letter will be released calling for a reduction in factory farming and a shift towards more sustainable agricultural practices. The letter focuses on factory farming’s contribution to three pressing global health challenges: antibiotic resistance, climate change, and chronic non-communicable diseases. Here are the letter’s key points. Antibiotic resistance Factory farming is highly intensive with large farms hosting tens of thousands of animals. Infection is constant problem and most farms use large quantities of …