In response to recent claims that livestock production has played a role in the spread of COVID-19, leading academics from four continents joined U.S., Canadian and international organizations representing farmers to sign an open letter that set the record straight.
Signatories -- including the Animal Agriculture Alliance, World Veterinary Association and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) -- clarified that domestic livestock production is safe and has not played a role in the spread of COVID-19.
“Our world needs the contributions of livestock. Globally, 1.3 billion people depend on livestock for their employment, while billions more rely on livestock to provide food for their families. Animal agriculture provides milk, meat, fish and eggs at a time when access to safe, nutritious and affordable food is necessary to fend off a potential global hunger crisis, and offers invaluable support for farmers facing severe, often existential, economic hardships,” they wrote in the letter.
The letter calls for governments and authorities to reassure consumers about the safety of meat, milk, eggs and fish while also working with farmers and veterinarians to share lessons and expertise around animal health.
“The precise origin of Covid-19 remains under investigation, but ongoing research continues to confirm that domestic livestock production is safe and has not played a role in the spread of Covid-19. Current evidence points to a journey from wild animals to humans, which aligns with research showing most zoonotic diseases originate in wildlife,” they wrote. “However, some are making unfounded claims that livestock and modern agriculture were somehow the source of the pandemic. This threatens to distract the global public health response at a time when animal agriculture can offer lessons for wildlife zoonosis management as part of the long-term pandemic preparedness.”
According to the signatories, the knowledge and expertise of the livestock sector can help strengthen the global Covid-19 response and tackle the growing risk of nutrition insecurity.
They outline three ways authorities, intergovernmental groups and NGOs can support these efforts by:
- Reaffirming the safety of livestock production and reminding consumers of our robust food safety system, including the important role of veterinarians and animal nutrition.
- Refuting misinformation that tries to manufacture a link between livestock and the spread of Covid-19.
- Consulting with livestock experts, including farmers and other stakeholders in the feed and food chain to understand how to support their efforts to feed communities.
To read the full letter, click here.