PRESS RELEASE PR NewswireTORONTO - The global charity World Animal Protection commissioned a public opinion poll to find out where Canadians stand on issues related to our food system, including animal welfare, the environmental impacts of industrial animal agriculture and the overuse of antibiotics. An EKOS research online survey of 2,143 Canadians conducted last month shows that Canadians have many concerns about the harmful effects of industrial animal agriculture.
And with a potential election looming, the charity hopes all political party leaders will address such issues on the campaign trail.
When it comes to safeguarding human health, 60 per cent of Canadians agreed with many experts who have identified antibiotic overuse on farm animals as contributing to a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria (aka "superbugs"). Superbugs make it harder for humans to respond to treatment from antibiotics.
A recent report from the charity even found antibiotic resistance genes (which are the building blocks of superbugs) in waterways near industrial pig farms in Manitoba. This is concerning because once in the environment, superbugs can reach humans in multiple ways.This includes swimming in or eating fish from contaminated waterways. Superbugs can even be transmitted through eating crops that have been watered with contaminated sources.
The routine overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture is also recognized by the World Health Organization and the United Nations (UN) as a significant contributor to the emergence of superbugs. Currently, 700,000 people die each year from untreatable infections. This number is estimated to grow to 10 million by 2050 if action isn't taken to stop antibiotic overuse.
The online survey showed 60 per cent of Canadians support phasing out the prophylactic use of antibiotics in industrial farming. The strongest support for this came from women (65 per cent) and BC residents (68 per cent).
Lynn Kavanagh, Farming Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection says, "Demand for high amounts of animal protein fuels intensification, which in turn fuels the reliance on prophylactic antibiotic use. We need to adopt a healthier farming system which necessitates reducing how much meat and dairy we consume."
Canadians are making this connection. One out of three Canadians report reducing or eliminating their consumption of animal products over the past 12 months. The two main reasons cited are health (41 per cent) and to reduce the impact on climate change (31 per cent).
Over the course of this summer wildfires have raged across BC – a wake-up call to the dire consequences of climate change. And as the latest UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, released earlier this week shows us, we need to act now.
Industrial animal farming is a major contributor to the climate crisis. It accounts for 70 per cent of all agricultural land use and is responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gases. Almost half (47 per cent) of Canadians are concerned about the possible environmental effects of animal consumption, especially young voters under 35 (61 per cent).
To support a healthier, more sustainable food system two thirds of Canadians support providing financial incentives to farmers to transition away from the industrial model of farming to more sustainable systems.
Preventing the next pandemic is also on the minds of Canadians. The poll shows 82 per cent believe preventing future pandemics are very or somewhat important issues when deciding who to vote for.
There is a strong link between industrial animal farming and pandemics. Previous pandemics such as the avian flu and swine flu have come from farms and some scientists predict the next pandemic could come also from a farm. In industrial farms across Canada and around the world animals are kept in overcrowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions, making it easy for diseases to spread.
Furthermore, the United Nations Environment Programme in a recent report, cites 'increased demand for animal protein' and 'unsustainable agriculture intensification' (mostly of animals) as two of the top seven drivers of pandemic risk.
"The time is now for all political parties to show Canadians how they plan to address the impacts of industrial animal farming," says Kavanagh. "Human health and animal health are connected, and the government has an opportunity to promote a food system that protects the environment and public health."
About World Animal Protection
From our offices worldwide, including China, Brazil, Kenya and Canada, we move the world to protect animals. Last year, we gave more than 220 million animals better lives through our campaigns that focus on animals in the wild, animals in disasters, animals in communities and animals in farming. For more information visit www.worldanimalprotection.ca.
SOURCE World Animal Protection