The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and Compassion in World Farming last week released a report titled “Zoonotic diseases, human health and animal welfare,” implicating intensive animal agriculture for outbreaks of human illness.

In 2012, the groups commissioned researchers to compile a series of reports examining the public health threat posed by some of the major zoonotic diseases and the effects of farming systems on this threat. The report summarizes their findings and provides policy recommendations from the two groups.

A news release from the WSPA leads with a statement that “The intensification of modern farming is an increasing hazard for human health.” The report cites incidents of foodborne illnesses from campylobacter, salmonella and E. coli, and zoonotic diseases such as bird flu and swine flu, concluding that concentrated production, animal transport and associated stress and disease exposure are to blame for outbreaks.

The authors offer the following recommendations

  • Ensure health – by developing farming policies for humane sustainable food supplies that ensure the health of animals and people. This includes using animal breeds, diets and management conditions that minimize stress and optimize animal welfare and immunity.
  • Surveillance and vaccination – helping minimize the spread of disease.
  • Limit transport – ensuring animals are slaughtered humanely on or near to the farm where they were raised.
  • Invest in research and knowledge transfer – helping support farmers to develop and implement higher welfare livestock systems.
  • Reduce non–therapeutic antibiotic use – limiting the risk of antibiotic resistance.
  • Encourage consumers to eat less and higher welfare meat – reducing the risk of exposure to food infected with Salmonella, Campylobacter or E. Coli.

Read the full report from the WSPA and Compassion in World Farming.