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7: Disease Transmission and Biodiversity Loss Through the Trade in Farm Animals

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Disease Transmission and

Biodiversity Loss Through the

Trade in Farm Animals


7.1  Introduction

As well as the risks to the environment and to human health from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) discussed in Chapter 4, there are significant risks to humans and other animals from transmission of infectious diseases, as well as major risk to biodiversity of farm animals as a result of trade.

About 60% of pathogens that cause human disease are of animal origin, and the proportion of emerging infectious diseases that are of animal origin is even higher, 75% (OIE, 2013). Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), avian influenza, Nipah virus, West Nile virus, Rift valley fever, brucellosis and echinococcosis are just a few examples of zoonoses that have had severe impacts on human health.

At the 81st General Session of the Assembly of World Organisation for Animal

Health (OIE) delegates in Paris in 2013, Princess Haya of Jordan, Goodwill

Ambassador to the OIE, said in her opening address:

As a population, we need to be able to harness the products of the land and sea, but we need to be able to trade these products too. In doing so, we must ensure that we are protected from the ravages of disease in both the human and animal populations.

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3: Trade Wars, Sanctions and Discrimination

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Trade Wars, Sanctions and



3.1  Introduction

When the British Raj in India was attacked by local tribesmen in 1897, within hours ‘astute financiers were considering in what degree their action had affected the ratio between silver and gold’ (Churchill, 1964). Observing this, Churchill marvelled at the ‘sensitiveness of modern civilization, which thrills and quivers in every part of this vast and complex system at the slightest touch’. Since that time the world has become a much smaller place, with financial ripples in even a remote corner having an almost immediate effect on world markets. The intricate nature of the world’s financial markets has opened the door to modern warfare being conducted in the stock exchanges rather than on the battlefield. Animal products, seen as essential commodities by the most developed nations at least, are often central to the sporadic warfare that has pervaded the world since the guns of the last major conflicts of the 20th century fell silent.

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8: Trade in Horses, Cats and Dogs

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Trade in Horses, Cats and



8.1  Introduction

Horses, cats and dogs share a common usage as companion animals but they can also variously be used as racing animals (horses and dogs), for meat production

(horses mostly, sometimes dogs and very occasionally cats), milk production (horses) and fur production (cats and dogs). Because these animals supply specialist markets, not mainstream like cattle and chickens, trade is often local. The trade is often not regulated as well as the livestock trade, frequently covert and sometimes illegal.

8.2  Horses

Horse trading has a long history, with evidence of activity in central Asia around

1000 bce (Wagner et al., 2011). The close relation between owner and horse makes the transaction very reliant on the owner’s report of the characteristics of the horse. The potential for deceit in this activity has given the term ‘horse trading’ special meaning in relation to business deals.

According to the World Horse Organization (WHO, 2015), there are now approximately 58 million horses worldwide, with 16% in the USA, 13% in China,

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10: The Future of Animal Trade

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The Future of Animal Trade


10.1  Introduction

The past has seen some dramatic changes in world trade in animals. This chapter considers what will shape the future of the animal trade and what changes in the trade are likely. Continuation of current trends does not seem to be an option. Worldwide meat and milk production have been growing, as outlined in

Chapters 4 and 5, respectively. Even taking into account increasing population, meat availability per capita has been increasing steadily over the last 50 years to approximately double what it was at the beginning of the 1960s; milk availability per capita has increased by about 20% over the last 10 years (Fig. 10.1). The increasing livestock production requires prodigious quantities of feed grain and there is still potential for meat consumption to increase in many developing regions of the world, e.g. sub-Saharan Africa. The steadily increasing trajectory for meat availability per capita has been consistent over the last 50 years (Fig. 10.1), and it will therefore take extreme measures if this is to be changed.

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1: The History of Animal Trade

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The History of Animal Trade


1.1  Introduction

Our ancestors existed as hunter gatherers, and before that as anthropoid apes. The hunter gatherers had varied diets, which gave them security as a population against climatic extremes that favoured certain plant and animal types (Milton, 2000). The costs and risks of procuring meat and animal products were high and many were primarily gatherers. However, meat, once it was obtained, was a concentrated source of energy and protein, the most important nutrients that they required for survival. Not only did hunter gatherers in different parts of the world have quite varied diets, depending on availability, they were also free to migrate to utilize different fauna and flora sources, depending on the season and weather patterns.

Settled agriculture, adopted over a period of just a few thousand years beginning about 10,000 years ago, offered the opportunity for higher yields from plants and animals that were farmed in small areas. However, the static nature of this activity and the enhanced resource requirements of this form of food production, in the form of a regular water supply and a nutrient-rich soil, increased exposure to climatic and seasonal extremes. The inevitable variation in productivity could only be absorbed into a successful existence if humans cooperated with neighbouring groups, so that food surpluses in one region were transported to others where the need was greater. Thus our cognitive skills in organizing this trade, coupled with our highly social behaviour, combined to make plant and animal raising a viable alternative to hunter gathering when societies cooperated by trading in surplus goods.

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