Today (April 7th) is World Health Day and we’re shining a light on a new documentary exploring the links between antibiotic resistance, pandemics, and how we treat animals.
"The End of Medicine" directed by Alex Lockwood and produced by actors Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara, examines how factory farming is fueling pandemics and antibiotic resistance and that we risk a major health crisis unless we change our relationship with animals.
Featuring our Global CEO
The film includes interviews with vets, health experts, and our own Global CEO Philip Lymbery who warns:
We have the new pandemic already emerging because of antibiotic resistance, because of the way that we’ve kept animals for all of these years.
Also featured are British vet, Alice Brough – who speaks of her concerns for public health due to the farming practices she has encountered – and public health experts who warn that cramming large numbers of animals into factory farms provides an environment for viruses and contributes to antibiotic resistance in people.
Factory farms provide the perfect breeding ground
The majority of animals raised for food worldwide are kept in cramped, stressful, unsanitary conditions where they never feel grass beneath their feet or the sun on their face. Living in such conditions makes disease and illness more likely for these sentient beings. To prevent this, farmers often routinely give the animals antibiotics in order to keep them healthy, even if they are not showing signs of illness.
However, this overuse has created antibiotic resistance in animals which can then be transferred to people and is dangerous because it can reduce our ability to recover from a wide range of illnesses and diseases, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and foodborne diseases.
WHO top 10 global health threats
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes antibiotic resistance as one of the top 10 global public health threats. Worldwide, it is estimated that 66% of all antibiotics are used in animals, not people. These conditions allow resistant bacteria to flourish, and once products from these animals enter the food chain, it can contribute to human antibiotic resistance.
Instead, farm animals should be raised in higher welfare farms – such as free-range, pasture-fed or organic – which support better health and allow them to express natural behaviors.
What you can do
These global health threats may seem overwhelming, but we can all make a difference by eating less and better meat from higher welfare farms and shifting towards more plant-based diets.
The film is due to be released on May 10, 2022. You can watch the trailer here.
Learn more about the dangers of antibiotic resistance in factory farming.