Ending factory farming. Ending animal cruelty.
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News Section Icon Published 7/24/2023

Compassion in World Farming's new poll, released today (July 24, 2023), reveals that more than a third of people in the US (34%) are unaware of any of the major health risks associated with high consumption and overproduction of meat products when presented with a list of them.

The poll – carried out by YouGov in eight countries on behalf of Compassion in World Farming – shows that only 19% of Americans knew that air pollution from factory farms increases the risk of certain lung cancers, and just 20% were aware that there is an increased risk of epidemics and pandemics.

While less than half (46%) were aware that diets heavy in meat products increase the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and obesity, 38% were aware that the current use of antibiotics in farming is making them less effective at treating human diseases.

When asked what would encourage them to purchase environmentally sustainable foods, people in the US were most likely to cite "knowing the health benefits associated with organic, free range, and pasture-reared meats" as a reason (39%). The second most selected reason in the US was "knowing the animals were reared with high welfare standards such as a comfortable living environment that meets their physical and behavioral needs" (36%).

In addition to causing immense animal cruelty and damaging our planet, this trend is seriously harming our health, by:

  • Increasing people’s risk of certain cancers and other diseases including coronary heart disease, strokes, type II diabetes, as well as obesity in the global north.
  • Unjustly driving people from their land and causing malnutrition and hunger in the global south – feeding more grain to animals makes it more expensive for people which can cause land to be taken from communities to grow crops for farmed animals instead of people.*
  • Increasing the risk of pandemics like flus and coronaviruses – cramming animals together in factory farms creates the perfect environment for diseases to be transmitted and even to evolve into new, deadly strains that also infect people.
  • Increasing the risk of lung cancer due to Industrial agriculture pollution – factory farms produce air pollution when ammonia reacts with other chemical compounds in the air to form particular matter – this can penetrate deep into the lungs causing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and lung cancer.
  • Making antibiotics less effective at treating diseases in people – around 70% of the world’s antibiotics are given to farmed animals, often as a preventative measure. This is contributing to antibiotic resistance in people – predicted to kill 10 million people a year by 2050.

The poll results come as representatives from each member state meet for the UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment in Rome to review countries’ progress toward creating a more sustainable global food system. CIWF's Global CEO, Philip Lymbery, will be participating in the event, raising awareness of the urgent need for leaders to agree to a global rescue plan for our food system, including a significant global reduction in meat consumption.

“When animals suffer, we all suffer. Industrial animal agriculture is not only the single biggest cause of animal cruelty on the planet, but it is also damaging our planet, increasing the risk of pandemics and seriously harming our health" said Lymbery, award-winning author and former UN Food Systems Champion, “yet our new poll shows that many people aren’t even aware of other serious health risks linked to meat production. What’s needed is for world leaders to agree on a clear global 'rescue plan' for our food system to ensure a healthy future for people, the planet, and animals. Urgent policies are needed from governments to reduce meat consumption and accelerate a shift towards regenerative food and farming.”

CIWF has launched an initiative as part of our global END.IT campaign to raise awareness of the human costs associated with eating too much meat and other animal proteins. It includes the launch of a new booklet – When Animals Suffer, We All Suffer– explaining the risks.

Sign the petition to end factory farming now.


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