A new female-founded voluntary organization has launched legal action against the UK government in an attempt to end factory farming in England.
Humane Being, founded by Jane Tredgett, has landed the services of top legal experts, led by renowned human rights barrister Michael Mansfield QC to argue that factory farming is harming animals, people and the planet.
The Scrap Factory Farming campaign is 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 kinder and more sustainable food system.
Witness statements have been gathered from more than 80 experts from across the globe, including academics, researchers, lecturers, professors, doctors, health professionals, vets, industry specialists, legal experts, consultants, policy and government advisors, economists, auditors, undercover investigators and more.
Among the campaign team is Dr Alice Brough, former livestock veterinarian. “The first thing that hits you is you can’t breathe because of the dust, the faeces, the ammonia,” says Brough in the campaign video. “Farming animals in that kind of system, it’s a lifelong torture and drawn-out death.”
Brough, along with other experts, also point out the dangers of factory farming on human health, especially the over-use of antibiotics to combat disease in the confined animals. This contributes to antibiotic resistance in humans.
“This overuse contributes to antibiotic resistance which is already causing 700,000 human deaths globally each year,” warns Brough. “By 2050, this number is forecast by the World Health Organization to reach 10 million if we continue on our current path. This legal challenge is vital to address some of the most pressing issues faced by humanity today, focusing on prevention rather than waiting for disaster to strike before responding.”
Dr Shireen Kassam, consultant haemotologist and founder of Plant Based Health Professionals UK, agrees. “I think Covid-19 is a dress rehearsal, for sure,” she warns. “The next pandemic which will occur will most likely be because of a virus escaping a factory farm and jumping to humans.”
According to Humane Being, the UK has seen a 26% rise in factory farms since 2016, while diseases such as swine flu, avian flu, HIV, Mers, SARS and ebola have come about as a result of how we abuse animals.
“The government acknowledges that pandemic influenza is one of the most severe natural challenges likely to affect the UK 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,” says Tredgett, a former RSPCA board member. “Despite this, I couldn’t find even one line in any government document asking if factory farming should be continued in light of this.”
Animal welfare and the environmental devastation caused by animal agriculture are also part of the Scrap Factory Farming legal challenge.
Among the supporters are Laila Kassam, co-founder of advocacy organisation Animal Think Tank and author of Rethinking Food and Agriculture: New Ways Forward. Visibly emotional in the campaign video, Kassam says of factory farming: “I wish this nightmare would end.”
The legal team filed the court action on 1 June and papers were served to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Humane Being are seeking support for the campaign, including a crowdfunder to raise a minimum of £60,000 for legal costs.