Despite what green lobbyists and celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver might have us believe, diseases like swine flu are less likely to develop in factory farms, not more so, argues Vivienne Parry this month’s Prospect. Of the 40 or so new diseases that have appeared around the world in the last three decades, almost all have begun in traditional “cottage” conditions. None, unless you count BSE, were caused by intensive production of animals. We need to stop panicking and start being realistic, Parry says: in factory farms, animals are routinely tested and treated for illnesses, and standards are routinely monitored; in traditional farms, by contrast, animals and humans come into contact much more regularly and diseases can go undetected for a dangerously long time. It’s these conditions that are much more likely to breed any future pandemics.
Weigh in with thoughts and comments here.