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Leah Garcés: The Next Pandemic Will Probably Come From A Factory Farm

Species Unite 6 May 2020 5


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“…This is not a surprise in many ways and, for decades, not just animal rights activists, but public health experts have been sounding the alarm bells about this kind of risk. And you know, my concern is in many ways people are referring to this as a once in a century event or the black swan or something, but it’s like rolling dice and rolling snake eyes once doesn’t have any effect on rolling. And in fact, we’re rolling the dice even faster now.

The main reason is because we are in so much contact with animals through factory farms. So the way to think about pandemics is that we know that emerging zoonotic infections come from places where animals and humans are in close contact. Well, where is that? Live animal markets, we know that. And the other place is industrial animal farms and slaughterhouses. That is the most obvious place for that connection to happen.” – Leah Garces

The New Coronavirus has done a superb job at exposing the numerous vulnerabilities and holes in many of our systems and industries, but none are as gaping or dangerous as the chasms in our food system.

Our food system is in crisis. We are seeing it right now – meat shortages, mass killings of animals because of shut downs and overflow, workers are getting sick and dying. It’s a fragile system that needs (and has needed for decades) a complete overhaul. By exposing these vulnerabilities, the pandemic is also giving us an opportunity to demand that the system change and, while we are at it, to think about changing the way that we eat.

If we don’t, if we ignore the scores of red flags waving from the factory farms and slaughterhouses across the country, then not only will the crisis deepen, but we are also putting the entire globe at risk for another pandemic that could and probably will be much worse than the one we are currently experiencing.

Factory farms are breeding grounds for viruses and bacterial resistance. We cram thousands of animals into filthy, confined spaces. Their immune systems are stressed because of their living conditions. This is the perfect environment for viruses to grow and to mutate. And, to transmit to humans – it’s happened before and next time, and, yes, it will happen again, and next time could be much worse.

Leah Garcés mission is to end factory farming. She is the President of Mercy for Animals and has spent much of her life leading the animal protection movement in exposing the hidden and horrible worlds of factory farming – and, changing them.

Her approach has been usual and it’s created change in a system that in many ways seemed unchangeable. She has worked with whistleblowing farmers to expose industrial chicken farms and has partnered with some of the world’s largest food companies to improve conditions for factory-farmed animals.

Leah learned that she could make considerable progress by working with her adversaries in the meat industry instead of battling against them, something I think that all of us can learn from. Her story is one that makes us rethink how we change broken systems and repair destructive industries. She wrote a book about it called, Grilled, Turning Adversaries Into Allies to Change the Chicken Industry. It’s an incredible read – not only does it expose the horrors of our food system, it’s also a book on how to make change happen, how to fight for justice, and how to remain empathic, optimistic, and hopeful in a fight for a much better world.

Leah is a hero to millions of animals, to humans across the planet, and to me. She thinks big, she get’s things done, and creates massive impact in the process.

Species Unite is a podcast focused on those who fight the good fight on behalf of animals around the globe. It's a collection of the stories of the people who are healing the world one creature at a time.

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