by Ken Klippen, President, National Egg Farmers
National Egg Farmers has rebuffed the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for saying that COVID-19 is linked to modern, farming practices. While some activists continue to claim the zoonotic nature of coronavirus is the result of modern, farming practices, National Egg Farmers says this is NOT true. Zoonotic means the virus can jump from animals to humans, and a link has been made to bats, but not to egg-laying chickens. These facts and their references were submitted to the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in a pre-emptive strike against efforts by HSUS to end modern production methods for producing eggs.
Josh Balk with the Humane Society of the United States in a Facebook video is blaming the COVID-19 and SARS crisis on how farm animals are treated. Here’s the video:
‘Science aligns with common sense’ — Humane Society VP Josh Balk explains how our treatment of animals is directly linked to the spread of disease
Posted by NowThis Justice on Friday, May 1, 2020
In a July 13th HSUS blog it outlined steps needed to prevent another pandemic like COVID-19. HSUS referenced the United Nations in identifying some of the top drivers of zoonotic diseases, like COVID-19, that spread from animals to humans. HSUS said the top three factors specified align exactly with issues the Humane Society named in May in their global policy plan for preventing future pandemics: the increasing demand for animal products, unsustainable agricultural practices like keeping farm animals in close confinement, and the exploitation of wildlife. HSUS proposed an 11-point plan HSUS believes will reduce animal suffering and help prevent future pandemics. HSUS also identified specific actions U.S. lawmakers can take to change how we treat animals and make our world less vulnerable to another disease outbreak. One of those points suggested for Congress to End the intensive confinement of farm animals:
- Pass laws ending the intensive confinement of farm animals, particularly for egg-laying hens in cages, mother pigs in gestation crates and baby cows in veal crates.
- Create federal economic incentives to assist farms transitioning from cage confinement systems to cage-free production.
- Ensure that bailouts and stimulus funds only go to producers that have eliminated—or have plans to eliminate—cages and have committed make other animal welfare improvements that lead to safer systems.
The claims by HSUS are fake news. The Lancet published a report on July 7, 2020 concerning attempts to infect farm animals with COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) that “Pigs and chickens could not be infected intranasally (through the nose) by SARS-CoV-2
The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. It is among the world’s oldest and best-known general medical journals dating back to 1823. It is true there is a zoonotic origin of SARS-CoV-2 likely from bats, but the researchers questioned the susceptibility of other animals giving rise to the pandemic. If farm animals like chickens and pigs could not be infected with COVID-19, they could not be the original source of this pandemic.
As to chickens being a source of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) as claimed in the HSUS Facebook video (see HSUS Links COVID-19 and SARS with Animal Production), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on research conducted in 2004 saying SARS coronavirus injected intratracheally (down the throats) into chickens, turkeys geese, ducks, and quail failed to cause disease or replicate. This finding suggests that domestic poultry were unlikely to have the reservoir, or associated with dissemination of SARS coronavirus in the animal markets of southern China.
To insure that Members of Congress are not misled by HSUS, National Egg Farmers submitted background evidence to the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Collin Peterson (D-MN), that the HSUS claims that COVID-19 and SARS are the result of farm animal production practices is untrue. References were made to the Lancet article of July 7, 2020 and the CDC report in 2004.
Farmers must speak up when groups mischaracterize their production practices stated National Egg Farmers President Ken Klippen.