With the cost of living crisis seeing taxes rise and food prices go up you may be thinking cheap meat is a blessing, but there are hidden costs you don’t pay out at the supermarket till.
This month will see a 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance, paid by both employers and workers, which will then become a separate tax on earned income from 2023 to help fund the National Health Service. The NHS has been put under tremendous strain during the COVID-19 pandemic but what does rising health cost have to with the meat we eat?
Our new report highlights the hidden health costs created by factory farming, and how they will continue to cost taxpayers if we don’t address this devastating and cruel system. Taxpayers are paying trillions of pounds globally in environmental, human health and economic costs of producing cheap meat and inevitably adding unnecessarily to the cost-of-living crisis.
75% of the world’s antibiotics is used on farm animals to prevent them getting sick in poor conditions1. This overuse means bacteria have greater chance to build a resistance to the antibiotics that are used to treat infections. This is placing a burden on health services with antibiotic resistance estimated to be the leading cause of death globally by 2050 with a total economic cost of £66 trillion2.
It is widely thought that the COVID-19 virus came from wild animals, but many diseases have also emerged from farm animals. Large groups of animals kept in close confinement in stressful, cruel conditions are the perfect breeding ground for new diseases. The World Health Organisation estimates that 75% of new diseases come from animals3.
Our planets health is closely linked to our own. 80% of global deforestation is a result of agriculture4 with the annual cost of forest loss costing the global economy between £1.5 trillion and £3.8 trillion5. The UK imports an average of 2 million metric tonnes of soya meal each year, 98% of which is used for animal feed.
With the NHS under unprecedented financial pressure, we cannot afford the public health costs of factory farming.
For the sake of animal welfare, human health and the planet it’s time to Say Yes To Less factory farming and help us put an end to it.
1 Boeckel, T.P.V.; Glennon, E.E.; Chen, D.; Gilbert, M.; Robinson, T.P.; Grenfell, B.T.; Levin, S.A.; Bonhoeffer, S.;Laxminarayan, R. 2017. Reducing antimicrobial use in food animals. Science 2017, 357, 1350–1352 https://www.science.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/science.aao1495 (accessed 24th September 2021) 2 O’Neill, J. 2016. Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally: Final Report and Recommendations. London, UK: The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. https://amr-review.org/sites/default/files/160518_Final%20paper_with%20… (accessed 22nd September 2021) 3 Jones KE, Patel N, Levy M, et al. Global trends in emerging infectious diseases. Nature 2008; 451:990-94 4 2015. Land use patterns and related carbon losses following deforestation in South America https://www.cifor.org/knowledge/publication/5892/ (accessed 1st November 2021) 5 The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity | EurekAlert!
Image credits: Blog post listing: Kyle Mackie/Unsplash; Blog post: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash