Over 50 per cent Indians concerned next pandemic could come from farm animals: Report

Globally, 4 out of 5 people, surveyed across 15 countries for the poll, had similar concerns. 
For representational purposes
For representational purposes

Superbugs are emerging on farms from antibiotic overuse, and those antibiotic resistant bacteria are entering our food chain and our environment, according to a report released on the occassion of World Food Day.

With factory farming routinely giving farm animals the same antibiotics used to treat up to 100 per cent of critically ill Covid-19 patients in the early stage of the pandemic, the rise of superbugs from factory farming presents a real and present danger to global public health.

A public poll, also from World Animal Protection, shows that 52 per cent Indians are deeply concerned that the next pandemic could come from farm animals. Globally, 4 out of 5 people, surveyed across 15 countries for the poll, had similar concerns. 

Over 15,000 people were surveyed for the poll and most were also unaware of the superbug threat from factory farming.

“This report and the poll are clear reminders of the growing risks of giving antibiotics to farm animals. Using these antibiotics on animals has severe repercussions on the health of the animals and eventually on the health of the people who end up consuming them.

We urge consumers to demand better from the fast food restaurants they eat at and ensure better treatment of animals in factory farms,” said Gajender K Sharma, Country Director, World Animal Protection India.

Almost three-quarters of the world’s antibiotics are used in animals, the majority on factory farms with antibiotics used to prop-up low-welfare practices such as the raising of fast-growing meat chickens. 

These animals are all housed in stressful, cramped conditions that provide the perfect breeding ground for the spread of infection and emergence of disease.

This is a risky business - when superbugs are passed from animals to people, they make us less able to fight disease.

Already, 700,000 people die each year from infections that cannot be treated by antibiotics. By 2050, this is expected to rise to 10 million people each year. 

Key findings of the global poll conducted by World Animal Protection with consumers in 15 countries show:

  • 83 per cent are concerned about the possibility of a pandemic originating from farm animals
  • 88 per cent are concerned about superbugs coming from farm animals 
  • 82 per cent underestimate the amount of the world’s antibiotics that are used on farm animals
  • Superbugs causing adverse health effects (70 per cent) or contaminating meat (66 per cent) are most alarming
  • It found that 92 per cent believe governments should monitor and report on antibiotic use in farm animals
  • 85 per cent believe antibiotics should only be used to treat sick animals,
  • and 4 out of 5 would refuse to shop with retailers that don’t ensure animals are treated well and don't ensure the responsible use of antibiotics in meat they sell

World Animal Protection is calling for the end of factory farming, reduced production and consumption of farm animal products and for all remaining farm animal production to be high welfare. 

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The New Indian Express