Bitter revenge of the animal kingdom

EducationWorld April 2020 | Editorial

The outbreak of the coronavirus aka Covid-19 disease is essentially the revenge of animal species against humankind. As detailed by Prof. Yuval Noah Harari in his best-seller book Homo Deus (2017), unspeakable cruelty against nature and animals has been committed in the process of mankind asserting its dominance on Planet Earth.

In particular, during the past half century since invention of factory farming incentivised by rising standards of living in the West which spiked demand for meat and poultry — formerly the privilege of the aristocracy — from the middle and working classes, factory farming of domesticated animals has become big business with the best mass production systems and practices of industry being adopted to incubate, rear and harvest livestock.

In animal factories, especially in developed OECD countries, millions of cattle, chickens, pigs are reared in tiny, standing-room only pens, force fed, artificially inseminated to produce eggs, calves, chicks and piglets during the entire duration of their nasty miserable lives before they are carved up and served on dining tables. With exotic wildlife species such as bats, pangolins, snakes and crocodiles also farmed and harvested in populous, fast-modernising China, it was only a matter of time before deadly pathogens and viruses incubated within highly stressed factory animals, entered the human food chain.

The spread of factory farming and cruel conditions in which animals are mass reared in the manner of agriculture produce has inevitably created conducive conditions for germination of powerful bacteria and viruses resistant to antibiotics. Moreover with antibiotics mixed into the animal feed to protect livestock bred in dirty and high stress environments, traditional antibiotics have become less effective for human beings and the SARS, MERS, Ebola and Covid-19 epidemics have followed in quick succession.

The international panic and national lockdowns in countries around the world following the Covid-19 contagion is a sombre warning for humankind to restrain its greed, return to more frugal lifestyles and relearn to respect animal rights. Failure to heed this warning is to roll out the red carpet for more global pandemics.

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