Health and intensive rearing of animals

The risks are simply too great

Sir, – As yet another outbreak of avian bird flu is detected in Co Monaghan, the case for a radical shift away from the intensive rearing of poultry is both compelling and urgent.

Apart from the significant ethical question mark that has hung over the industry for decades – the ethical issue being the justification on moral grounds for raising animals indoors in cramped and highly stressful environments – these animal factories pose an unacceptable threat to the human population of the planet which we all, animals and humans, share.

We are being constantly reassured that the H5N1 avian flu virus poses no threat to humans. Yet no virologist can give a cast-iron guarantee that a new strain will not mutate in the future, one that infects the human body and wreaks havoc across the globe. With tens of billions of animals, mainly poultry and pigs, crammed into sheds all over the world, including here in Ireland, where approximately 100 million birds and 3.5 million pigs are raised in sheds each year, it has to be only a matter of time before another serious zoonotic event occurs.

Tens if not hundreds of millions of birds have been culled across the globe in the past two years in futile efforts to curtail the spread of avian bird flu. In China, 200 million pigs were culled in 2020 in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to eradicate African swine fever. The risks are simply too great. The process of closing down these intensive industries should start with immediate effect. – Yours, etc,




Co Roscommon.