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News Release Humane Being legal challenge 02.06.21

Press Release

For immediate release

2nd June 2021

UK government in dock over ‘dangerous’ factory farming.

Campaigners say the practice is a ‘pandemics timebomb’ and threat to public health.

Campaigners have launched a legal action against the UK government in a bid to end factory farming in England. They claim a ban is urgently needed to prevent further pandemics, including the silent pandemic of increasing antibiotic resistance1, which is already killing people.

 

Renowned human rights lawyer, Michael Mansfield QC, is leading the court action.

Humane Being – an entirely-volunteer-run action group – is behind the legal challenge2 along with former pig industry veterinarian, Dr Alice Brough and former RSPCA board member, Jane Tredgett.

Their Scrap Factory Farming campaign is crowdfunding the £60,000 needed for the judicial review of government policy.3

 

Jane Tredgett said “I was appalled to discover that the Department of Health has a 49 page booklet recognising the likelihood of an influenza pandemic happening, accepting that up to 750,000 people in the UK could die, and with plans for “disposal of the remains”4. The last 4 pandemics before Covid-19 developed from avian or swine flu5, and the Government acknowledges that “Pandemic influenza is one of the most severe natural challenges likely to affect the UK”6 and that “many millions of people around the world will become infected, up to around 50% become ill with symptoms and a variable proportion die from the disease itself or from complications such as pneumonia”7 Despite this, I couldn’t find even 1 line in any Government document asking if factory farming should be continued in light of this”.

 

David Finney, spokesperson for Scrap Factory Farming, commented:

“We are sitting on a pandemics timebomb. Three out of every four new and emerging diseases in people come from animals. The cramped, unhygienic conditions on UK factory farms are the perfect breeding ground for these diseases and condemn more than half a billion animals each year to a life of suffering and sickness. We may get control of Covid-19, but our government is doing nothing to address the root causes of zoonotic influenza. Between November 2020 and April 2021 there were more than 25 outbreaks of Avian Flu reported on UK farms. If our government fails to ban factory farming, they are putting us at risk of another pandemic – experts say it will be a matter of not if, but when.”

 

Dr Alice Brough, pig veterinarian and co-claimant to the legal challenge, said:

“Having worked for several years in one of the UK’s most intensive livestock sectors, I have seen the problems with factory farming first-hand. The systems can be extremely stressful, unhygienic and inappropriate for animals’ needs. Disease is rife, including those with pandemic potential, and excessive antibiotic use inevitable. This overuse contributes to antibiotic resistance which is already causing 700,000 human deaths globally each year; by 2050, this number is forecast by the World Health Organisation to reach 10 million if we continue on our current path. This challenge is vital to address some of the most pressing issues faced by humanity today, focussing on prevention rather than waiting for disaster to strike before responding.”

 

The campaigners are calling for the UK government to lead the way and urgently phase out animal factory farming by 2025, starting with an immediate ban on factory farm planning applications and support for farmers in their transition to a sustainable food system that protects animals, people, and the planet.

 

Actor Jerome Flynn, an ambassador to the campaign, said “It is starkly clear to me that there cannot be a future for mankind in a world where factory farms still exist. This is our time now to put things right”.

 

The legal team have filed the court action and papers were served to Defra yesterday. The group received over 80 witness statements– from scientists, academics, researchers, lecturers, professors, doctors, health professionals, vets, industry specialists, legal experts, consultants, policy and government advisors, economists, auditors, undercover investigators, campaigners, nutritionists, authors of books, directors of films, people who have lived near or worked on factory farms and a couple from concerned members of the public. Statements came in from the UK, Australia, the USA, Sweden, Germany, Brussels, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Canada.

ENDS

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