Industrial Livestock Production and Global Health Risks


Because of human and livestock population growth, changes in livestock production, the emergence of worldwide agro-food networks, and significant changes in personal mobility, human populations increasingly share a global commons of disease risk, among themselves and with domestic and wild animal species. To elucidate the linkage between livestock production and global public health, this paper draws upon recent experiences provided by different influenza A virus (IAV) incursions into domestic livestock populations, the most notable one being the ongoing HPAI H5N1 epidemic that originated in Asia, which now also affects Africa and which has led to outbreaks in the Near East and in Europe.

Livestock production has significantly changed over the past decades with industrial systems and their associated value chains being dominant in developed countries and becoming increasingly important in developing countries where traditional livestock production still provides an important source of income for a large share of the population. Industrial systems are characterized by large numbers of animals of similar genotype being raised, predominantly in confinement, for one purpose with rapid population turnover at a single site. This paper provides evidence suggesting that without commensurate private and public investments in bioexclusion and biocontainment measures these industrial systems can result in increased animal and public health risks.

Risks to animal and public health arising from livestock production are a local and global externality that may not be properly reflected in the costs of production and the authors argue that more equitable distribution of these costs requires well informed public intervention to shape private incentives for the implementation of biosecurity so that livestock production aligns with public health interests.


PPLPI, FAO, Rome, Italy, 21 pp.

Industrial Livestock Production and Global Health Risks

Published 1 January 2007