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Preventing the next pandemic

Preventing the next pandemic

3 min read + listen

The UN Environment Programme has published a vital report: Preventing the next Pandemic, Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission. The findings outline seven major human-mediated factors that will be most likely to result in the next pandemic including: increasing demand for animal protein, unsustainable  agricultural intensification, exploitation of wildlife, travel and transport, accelerated urbanisation, changes in food supply chains and climate change. We take a closer look at four of these factors that are central to what we do here at TYME. 

Many of these factors are linked to our diets and food supply systems:

1. Increasing demand for animal protein

High-income countries have experienced little change in consumption of animal source foods during the last four decades. Put simply, the more animals we have, the more likely we are to spread zoonotic diseases. This trend is predicted to continue in the coming decades, with most growth in animal-source food consumption occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

2. Unsustainable agricultural intensification

Increasing demand for animal-source foods stimulates the intensification and industrialisation of animal production. The intensification of agriculture, and in particular of domestic livestock farming, results in large numbers of genetically similar animals, this results in animals being contained in poor conditions, causing a higher risk of diseases spreading.

3. Climate change

Many zoonoses are climate sensitive and a number of them will thrive in a warmer, wetter, more disaster prone world foreseen in future scenarios. Climate change is a major factor in disease emergence. The survival, reproduction, abundance and distribution of pathogens, vectors and hosts such as insects can be influenced by climatic parameters affected by climate change.

4. Changes in food supply chains

Food supply chains are lengthening and diversifying, especially in low- and middle-income countries. This trend—which is being driven by increased demand for animal source food, new markets for wildlife food, and poorly regulated agricultural intensification—is creating additional opportunities for disease transmission

Read the full report here

We’ve been listening to this podcast via Rich Roll as a team this week and wanted to share it with you. It features Bruce Friedrich, founder & president of The Good Food Institute, an international non-profit focused on the reimagination of meat production.

Image credit: Sébastien Thibault