By Emily Solis, Communications Specialist, Animal Agriculture Alliance

Taking advantage of people when they are most vulnerable is a disgrace, but that’s just what animal rights activists are doing during this COVID-19 pandemic. Animal rights groups are making headlines claiming that animal agriculture is to blame for COVID-19 and will be the cause of future pandemics. While it may seem like they’re looking out for the good of the general public, their only goal is to mislead people into eating less meat and end animal agriculture.

Science over fear

Sensational headlines stating that animal agriculture is to blame draw attention, but experts in epidemiology, zoonotic diseases, and food safety are in agreement that these assertions are inaccurate. Dr. Richard Raymond, former Undersecretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, says there is absolutely no connection between animal agriculture and the current COVID-19 pandemic or any previous pandemics.

“There has been no source identified for the current coronavirus and there is certainly no link to food animals or animal production,” said Raymond. “It started in a multimillion population center in China, nowhere near any large food animal operations.”

Modern animal agriculture practices are frequently targeted by activists as key players in disease spread, but experts say they actually reduce disease occurrence. “If anything, modern agriculture helps prevent infectious disease outbreaks by not allowing our domestic animals contact with environment contaminated by wild species of animals such as surface water or other environmental contaminants,” said Dr. Dan Thomson, chair of the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University and former professor of production medicine and epidemiology at Kansas State University. “Modern agriculture allows us to monitor animal health daily and quickly mitigate animal health issues.”

Dr. Randy Singer, professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota and editor-in-chief of Zoonoses and Public Health, a Wiley peer-reviewed journal agrees, saying “the high level of biosecurity used by modern animal agriculture has resulted in a greatly decreased risk of disease spread.”

Meat is here to stay

Between claims from activists that animal agriculture is the culprit of the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery store shelves and meat cases left empty amid panicked shoppers, and the New York Times boldly claiming that ‘the end of meat is here,’ it’s easy to fall prey to the idea that America’s favorite proteins are on their way out. However, you can rest assured that meat isn’t going anywhere.

Farmers, ranchers, packers, processors, restaurants, retailers, and all sectors of the food supply chain are working diligently to keep shelves stocked with safe and nutritious food. Though tough decisions have been made in light of the pandemic, our food sector is resilient. Food chain workers are rising to the challenge of unanticipated demand to ensure food is one thing families don’t have to worry about during this trying time.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is an industry-united, nonprofit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. We connect key food industry stakeholders to arm them with responses to emerging issues. We engage food chain influencers and promote consumer choice by helping them better understand modern animal agriculture. We protect by exposing those who threaten our nation’s food security with damaging misinformation. Find the Alliance on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.