2020 has been a tough year. It’s hard to put it into words.
What started on an optimistic note, welcoming in the New Year, soon changed with the advent of Covid-19, as it spread around the globe with devastating effects.
It was surreal, frightening, worrying and challenging in equal measure. For some, the advent of a warm Spring in lockdown and a chance to spend more time at home with family, provided much needed peace and quiet. For others, it was a time of shielding, worry about family safety, with huge sadness and tragedy as close relatives fell ill and succumbed to the virus. Many have suffered with mental health issues and been left financially insecure. However, there is not one amongst us, who will ever forget the huge debt of gratitude that we owe our health workers. Their service to those in need and the wider public, cannot be over-estimated. Their tireless devotion to duty and their compassionate care, has been an inspiration, as has the response of a great many others who rose to the occasion by volunteering, fundraising and helping their neighbours.
Not surprisingly, it seems to me as if almost everyone I talk to has their own personal story. Each one is different. Every story is compelling. Sadly, with the advent of further restrictions and the festive season looming, it’s hard to know when our pandemic stories will end. ‘Covid-19’ and ‘lockdown’ are, tragically, words that have come to define the lives of so many of us across the world.
Humanity must Change
While the pandemic is bringing unprecedented challenges, it has also brought into sharp focus how our treatment of animals affects our own wellbeing, inspiring many people to grasp the opportunity for profound and far-reaching change, especially in our relationship to animals and the natural world.
In the words of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Inger Andersen ‘In COVID-19, the planet has delivered its strongest warning to date that humanity must change”.
Compassion in World Farming reacted quickly as the pandemic took hold, drawing attention to the links between factory farms and disease. It is true that the emergence of Covid-19 has been linked to eating wildlife, but it also shows strong parallels with other viruses that have emerged from industrial farming, such as highly pathogenic strains of Avian Influenza and Swine Flu. At the same time, the global appetite for ever more meat has caused the clearing of more and more forests worldwide for farmland, encroaching on wildlife and potentially risking zoonotic disease and virus transfer.
Protecting People means Protecting Animals too
The intensive farming of animals is without question a serious public health risk. The way animals are caged, crammed and confined, provides the perfect conditions for new and more dangerous strains of disease. We’ve recently seen the advent of a new mutation of Covid in farmed mink in Denmark in yet another worrying sign of the way viruses can move quickly through animals, resulting in differences in the virus’ DNA, causing new, more deadly strains to emerge.
There can be no doubt that the key to reducing the risk of devastating diseases is to reconnect with our humanity for animals. To ensure that the sentience of animals — their ability to feel pain, to suffer, and to experience a sense of joy, whether wild or farmed, lies at the heart of future disease control strategies.
In closing, I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you for your continued and unwavering support of Compassion in World Farming. We simply couldn’t do our work to make the world a better place for farm animals without the dedication of our trustees, patrons, staff and all our wonderful supporters.
In the face of the unprecedented challenges of 2020, we came together united to make major progress against the world’s biggest cause of animal cruelty. It has been inspiring. Thank you,
If you agree and wish to see a world without cages and without factory farming please help us.
We are calling on the world’s most influential organisations, including the World Bank, the United Nations and the World Health Organisation, to replace factory farming with a food system that respects animals, nurtures our planet, and reduces the risk of pandemics.
Please use this link to sign our petition and join the call for a future without factory farming.