The World Health Organization (WHO) exists for one purpose: so that all people can obtain the highest level of health. As such, it’s time that the organization addresses one of the main impediments to this goal: industrialized animal agriculture.
Or at least, that’s what a group of more than 200 experts in global health, biology, policy, and climate research are asking for in an open letter to the WHO – including GFI’s executive director, scientific foundations liaison, and senior scientist.
[More details here in The New York Times]
Since WHO is electing its next Director General this week at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, this couldn’t have come at a better time.
Unless it had come, say in 1948, when the WHO was founded.
Even though current Director General, Margaret Chan, called antibiotic resistance, climate change, and chronic diseases “slow motion disasters” during the 2016 World Health Assembly, factory farming – a system that is inextricably linked to each of these critical problems – has remained unaddressed.
If the WHO is serious about protecting and promoting global public health, the new director better put the problem of factory farming at the top of her or his list. After all, 700,000 people die each year of antibiotic-resistant diseases, while the rampant use of antibiotics in farm animals continues to breed more resistant strains of deadly bacteria. Then, there’s factory farming’s massive contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, which accelerates climate change – a crisis that the WHO estimates will cause an additional 250,000 deaths each year between 2030 and 2050. Finally, it’s common knowledge that the over-consumption of animal products is tied to a slew of chronic illnesses, from diabetes and obesity to heart disease and cancer.
The letter's authors – Scott Weathers and Sophie Hermanns – drive the point home in an article in The New York Times, co-authored by food journalist and author Mark Bittman:
Stop subsidizing factory farming.Adopt nutrition standards and implement education campaigns that warn of the health risks of meat consumption.Finance research into plant-based alternatives to meat.The harms factory farming causes are global in nature: Bacteria resistant to antibiotics do not recognize borders, nor does climate change, and health care systems everywhere will struggle to meet the challenges of rising chronic diseases.Eating animals may have been crucial to our survival in the past. But now, it’s killing us.
To learn more, you can read the full letter here Then read it again to your friends, and your local representatives, and relatives.
And to learn how The Good Food Institute is working to build a better future for food, check out what we do.