How to prevent a factory farmed pandemic
What if the next pandemic comes, not from wet markets overseas, but from our own factory farms? Martha Nelson, who studies viruses at the NIH, says we are playing Russian roulette with potentially dangerous influenza strains on our pig farms.
In this episode, we explain what makes these giant farms so likely to breed the next pandemic virus — and spread that virus into the world. And then, we look at solutions — from creating a virus-resistant pig, to developing a universal vaccine, to changing the systems we have for raising meat itself.
Further listening and reading:
Sigal Samuel wrote an in-depth explainer on the pandemic risks of factory farms earlier this year. She’s also written about “wet markets.”
The Vox video team also made an explainer video on the same subject.
For more on how viruses can spread in the pig population, Martha Nelson has an excellent paper “When Pigs Fly.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations wrote a 2013 report on the health risks of factory farming.
Sonia Shah’s book Pandemic is a great primer on how pandemic strains arise.
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This podcast is made possible thanks to support from Animal Charity Evaluators. They research and promote the most effective ways to help animals.
Byrd Pinkerton (@byrdala), podcast producer, Vox
Martha Nelson (@swientist), epidemiologist, National Institutes of Health
Juergen Richt (@juergenricht), professor of veterinary medicine, Kansas State University
Sigal Samuel (@SigalSamuel), staff writer, Vox
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