Animal Aid attacks farmers

Animal activists have launched an attack on UK livestock farming, claiming the industry presents a significant threat to human health.

Animal Aid has published a booklet entitled Is factory farming making you sick? and supported the launch with secretly shot film footage collated over a three-year period, which it claims shows a dead calf in a shed, young pigs looking for food in a trough filled with faeces and a bin full of dead sheep and lambs.

The group claim the images support its argument that modern animal farming presents a significant threat to human health, as well as an intolerable burden upon the animals themselves.

Thr booklet highlights 12 major diseases that start in factory farm settings, which it then claims could go on to harm and even kill people. They include salmonellosis, campylobacter infection, BSE, bird flu and swine flu. In a statement, Animal Aid claimed: "Swine flu has killed more than 18,000 people around the world, while in the UK alone, it is estimated that salmonella and campylobacter are responsible for around 450,000 cases each year."

The 28-page document was produced with Dr Michael Greger, the Humane Society Internationals director of public health and animal agriculture and is being made available on request to the public. The film is also available on YouTube and the Animal Aid website.

A campaign is being planned for the summer, which will see Animal Aid visit cities throughout the UK to promote its claims on the health risks people face from factory farming.

Kelly Slade, Animal Aid campaigns officer, said: "We must reconsider our treatment of our fellow sentient beings not only because of the effect that their abuse and exploitation has on animal welfare, but also because of the negative health consequences for people, too. Each one of us can take a simple, but important step to reduce the harm and hazard by adopting an animal-free diet."

John Mercer, chief livestock advisor with the National Farmers' Union, defended UK farmers: "The video opens with the statement that the majority of farm animals in the UK are kept in similar conditions to those shown. This is simply not true.

"UK farmers operate to some of the highest standards of welfare and are rightfully proud of their management systems and high-quality produce. They operate in one of the most regulated markets in the world where health and welfare is of paramount importance.

"Irrespective of farming systems, good welfare is dependent on high levels of stockmanship and skilled professional farmers and, in the UK, we operate to world class standards, such as the Red Tractor assurance scheme. The food we produce is fully traceable back to the farm and consumers can be reassured by robust legal and voluntary measures, which protect the welfare of farm animals and the safety of the produce coming from UK farms.

"The NFU cannot comment on the individual situations shown on the video, but does not endorse poor standards of husbandry, welfare or farm hygiene."

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