Is Factory Farming to Blame for Coronavirus? (Mar. 28, 2020)
In the 1990s, as part of its economic transformation, China ramped up its food production systems to industrial scale. Smallholding farmers were undercut and pushed out of the livestock industry. They turned to farming wild species. This increased the frequency of contacts with viruses. Modern models of agribusiness can also contribute to the emergence of zoonoses. For example, birds in a given farm tend to be near genetic clones of one another – having been selected over decades for desirable traits. If a virus gets introduced into such a flock, it can race through it without meeting any resistance in the form of genetic variants that prevent its spread. Some believe this is why the avian flu strain has tended to come from more developed countries.