New year, new Administration, same fight for animals.
The Biden-Harris Administration has an opportunity to be a leader in protecting our planet and its inhabitants. We hope they take it.
World Animal Protection is a non-partisan organization that works with lawmakers throughout the country to put protections in place for animals. This includes federal officials to introduce and pass legislation furthering our mission to end animal cruelty.
Now that a new president and vice president are in charge of the country and the shift of power in Congress has changed, here are some ways we hope the Biden-Harris Administration can protect animals.
This critical piece of legislation, which will likely be reintroduced into the current Congress, would uplift independent family farmers and protect frontline workers, rural communities, and public health. It would overhaul our broken food system to be more equitable, sustainable, and kinder to animals.
During the current pandemic ravaging the country, the Trump Administration labeled the meat industry a necessity, putting workers at risk who already suffer chronic and acute injuries. This risk is compounded by the extreme speeds for slaughter lines which compromise animal welfare and food safety. The Safe Speeds During Covid-19 Act, introduced last session by Representative Marcia Fudge and Senator Cory Booker would prevent meat processing companies from continuing these extreme slaughter speeds during the pandemic and directs the Government Accountability Office to review the USDA's actions regarding line speed caps and granting speed waivers to facilities.
Not only should the Biden-Harris Administration support this legislation for workers, but farmed animals are at high risk of entering processing lines without being properly stunned, leading to painful deaths. Increased line speeds make it harder for inspectors to monitor signs of disease in animals who can wind up in the food supply.
With almost 400,000 Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and many more struggling through the devastating impact it had on global economies, livelihoods, and quality of life, it's vital the Biden-Harris Administration put tangible steps in place to help prevent future pandemics.
One such tangible step is to withdraw America's support of the global wildlife trade. Wild animals are thought to be the cause of the current global pandemic from zoonotic diseases that jumped from wildlife to humans. The demand for wild animals and wild animal products is a primary cause and spread of zoonotic diseases and is a severe risk to global health. The Preventing Future Pandemics Act would restrict the import of wild animals and wild animal products for human consumption.
One of the most pressing issues of our time, according to the United Nations, is the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or superbugs. Approximately 750,000 people each year die from infections that cannot be treated by antibiotics. Thirty-five thousand Americans who die from antibiotic-resistant infections every single year are included in this global statistic.
A main driver in the rise of these superbugs is the overuse of antibiotics for farmed animals raised in a profit-focused factory farming system. Roughly 75% of all antibiotics sold in the US each year are marketed for farmed animals and prop up factory farms that cram these animals in high densities, poor conditions, and low-welfare conditions. Farmed animals are more prone to disease and infection due to immense stress, overcrowding, and unnatural and rapid growth, so they are given regular low doses of antibiotics leading to the rise of superbugs.
While the US has taken steps to reduce antibiotics for growth promotion, it continues to allow routine use of antibiotics in healthy animals for disease prevention, in turn failing to protect the health of Americans and the wellbeing of farmed animals.
It's vital that lawmakers recognize our relationship with animals and our planet is interconnected with our own survival. The Biden-Harris Administration has an opportunity to be a leader in protecting our planet and its inhabitants. We hope they take it.