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Fellow addresses link between “swine flu” and intensive farming

1st May 2009

Fellow of the Centre, neurologist and public health specialist, Dr Aysha Akhtar, MD, MPH, has addressed the link between the current “swine flu” and intensive farming:

The high-density intensive animal operations need to go. Not only are they hotbeds for pathogens, but they are also environmentally unsustainable and cruel to the animals involved. The American Public Health Association, recognizing the adverse public health consequences of these intensive farms, has called for a moratorium. That’s a great step in the right direction, but it is not enough. To reduce the supply, the demand for animal products must decrease.

With one exception thus far, the current swine flu cases outside of Mexico appear to be relatively mild in severity and the outbreaks may fizzle out. Even if it does, however, genes between different flu strains are being swapped and re-assorted in pig farms across the world. The next major pandemic is just a matter of time. If we learn anything from the current outbreaks, it is that we can’t afford to wait for the next one. We need to address the root of the problem: the intensive farm animal operations and our own appetites.

For the complete article, see the web site Science Progress and join in the discussion online.

Other pioneering articles by Dr Akhtar include: “Health Professionals’ Roles in Animal Agriculture, Climate Change, and Human Health”, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 36, issue 2, 182-187, February 2009; “Animal Studies in Spinal Cord Injury: A Systematic Review of Methylprednisolone”, ATLA 2009; 37: 43-62; “Spinal Cord Injury Research Hampered by Animal Models?” Stem Cell Research News, vol. 10, no. 9, 1-5, May 2008, and “Animal Models in Spinal Cord Injury: A Review”, Reviews in the Neurosciences, 19: 47-60, 2008.