Factory farms, a major source of meat products globally, have been found to contribute significantly to climate change, accounting for nearly 20% of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, worsening droughts, floods, heat waves and wildfires.
This revelation came to light during a webinar organized by World Animal Protection (WAP) that coincides with the ongoing COP 28 climate change summit.
During the webinar, Dr. Victor Yamo, Humane & Sustainable Agriculture Campaign Manager at WAP, presented research findings highlighting the negative environmental effects of factory farming, such as biodiversity loss and pollution caused by the clearing of forests to accommodate the factories.
On the other hand, it causes public health crises due to non-communicable diseases caused by high meat consumption, as well as antimicrobial resistance, because modern factory farms are ideal breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant infections where many animals are raised in crowded, unsanitary conditions. This also disregards animal welfare and sentience.
As part of the recommendations, Dr. Yamo emphasized the need for academia to adapt and integrate emerging issues into their curricula, urging academic institutions to keep pace with new information and take a holistic approach to addressing climate change.
In this context, the Department of Animal Sciences at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) is in the 3rd revision of the curriculum of its flagship training program BSc Animal Health Production and Processing, where a emphasis is laid on the subject of Animal Welfare as recommended by Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB) (2019).
The revision also incorporates training on zoonosis, diagnosis, antimicrobial resistance, climate change, and greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Dr. Maina Ngotho, a Lecturer at JKUAT who was present at the launch, farmers should be encouraged to adopt practices that promote good animal welfare and eliminate the need for antibiotics.
Dr Ngotho is leading a collaborative research effort with WAP in Nyeri County, funded by Open Philanthropy in California, USA. The study aims to assess the extent of antimicrobial use and resistance to reduce reliance on antibiotics in animal farming.
Factory farms currently contribute to the suffering of billions of animals worldwide, with global meat consumption projected to reach unprecedented levels by 2030.
Dr. Yamo advocates for exploring plant-based diets rich in protein and sustainable traditional pastoral systems to transform the global food system and ensure the well-being of farmed animals while mitigating environmental impact.
He also urges the public to play an active role during the development of County Integrated Development Plans where they can influence the budget allocated to agriculture to support small-scale farmers, information dissemination among others.
The urgent call to action aims to halt the exploitation of both farmed and wild animals, ensuring a more sustainable and humane future for global food production.
The webinar held on December 5, 2023 attracted participants from Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, Nigeria, among others.