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‘Our world needs the contributions of livestock’

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By Georgina Mills

Domestic livestock production is safe and has not played a role in the spread of Covid-19, agriculture and veterinary leaders have stated.

Reaffirm the safety of livestock production

In an open letter, which was published on 4 June, over 65 organisations and individuals – including the BVA, the World Veterinary Association, the National Office of Animal Health and the National Farmers’ Union – called on authorities, intergovernmental groups and non-governmental organisations to reaffirm the safety of livestock production and refute any misinformation.

They said that despite current evidence for the source of Covid-19 pointing to a journey from wild animals to people, there had been ‘unfounded claims’ in the media that livestock and modern agriculture were somehow the source of the pandemic.

These, they write, threaten to distract the global public health response at a time when animal agriculture can offer lessons for wildlife zoonosis management as part of long-term pandemic preparedness.

They point out that livestock diseases are monitored globally to help prevent them from spreading across borders in the way that Covid-19 has done. ‘Using these learnings to develop more robust early warning systems for wildlife could enhance our ability to detect emerging diseases,’ they say.

Furthermore, they add, livestock production is a regulated, monitored system with food safety and public health at its core, and even in the current unprecedented challenges, farms and food facilities are taking every precaution possible to keep their employees safe and their animals healthy.

‘Our world needs the contributions of livestock,’ the letter reads. ‘Globally, 1.3 billion people depend on livestock for their employment, while billions more rely on livestock to provide food for their families. Animal agriculture provides milk, meat, fish and eggs at a time when access to safe, nutritious and affordable food is necessary to fend off a potential global hunger crisis, and offers invaluable support for farmers facing severe, often existential, economic hardships.’

As well as calling on global authorities to refute false claims about the sector, the signatories are also asking them to consult with experts from the livestock sectors to understand how to support efforts to feed communities.

The full letter can be found at https://bit.ly/37cIf8W

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