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Farm Animal Welfare and Human Health

  • Food, Health, and the Environment (KE Nachman, Section Editor)
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The paper examines the relationship between farm animal welfare, industrial farm animal production, and human health consequences. The data suggest that when the animal welfare of land-based farm animals is compromised, there are resulting significant negative human health consequences due to environmental degradation, the use of non-therapeutic levels of antibiotics for growth promotion, and the consequences of intensification. This paper accepts that even if meat and fish consumption is reduced, meat and fish will be part of the diet of the future. Industrial production modified from the current intensified systems will still be required to feed the world in 2050 and beyond. This paper identifies the concept of sustainable intensification and suggests that if farm animal welfare is improved, many of the human health consequences of intensified industrial production can be eliminated or reduced. In water-based farm animal production, many new systems are resulting in a product that actually protects the environment and can be done at industrial levels without the use of antibiotics.

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Sincere appreciation is given to Christopher Good, Madhusree Mukerjee, Joanne Zurlo, Helene Goldberg, Ellen Silbergeld, and my colleagues on this project (Ruth Faden, Robert Thompson, Jessica Fanzo, Yashar Shagai and Sara Glass) for their comments, advice, and questions, on a very early draft of this paper. My sincere appreciation to David Fraser, Helene Goldberg, and Bernard Rollins who critically reviewed the penultimate draft.

I also wish to thank Sara Glass, a member of the GFE Project team for her administrative support.

Material in this paper was part of a briefing document for the Global Food Ethics Project (27).

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Correspondence to Alan M. Goldberg.

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Alan M. Goldberg declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


This work was supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Food, Health, and the Environment

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Goldberg, A.M. Farm Animal Welfare and Human Health. Curr Envir Health Rpt 3, 313–321 (2016).

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