Dr. Devolder first learned of Farm Forward in an op-ed for The Guardian titled “We Have to Wake Up: Factory Farms are Breeding Grounds for Pandemics,” which connected the dots between factory farming and pandemic risk. Written by Dr. Gross and a Farm Forward board member, best-selling author Jonathan Safran Foer, the op-ed notes the staggering pandemic virus threat posed by industrial pig and chicken farms and calls for societal change:
“The link between factory farming and increasing pandemic risk is well established scientifically, but the political will to curtail that risk has, in the past, been absent. Now is the time to build that will. It really does matter if we talk about this, share our concerns with our friends, explain these issues to our children, wonder together about how we should eat differently, call on our political leaders, and support advocacy organisations fighting factory farming. Leaders are listening. Changing the most powerful industrial complex in the world – the factory farm – could not possibly be easy, but in this moment with these stakes it is, maybe for the first time in our lifetimes, possible.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals. With an estimated mortality rate of around two percent, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc worldwide. But it could have been much worse. Had COVID been another virus on the CDC watch list, like H5N1 (bird flu), we could be facing a pathogen with a 60 percent mortality rate. And of the 19 viruses currently dominating the CDC’s list of influenza viruses with pandemic potential considered “of special concern,” at least 11 emerged in commercial poultry farms.