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September 9, 1999

Public Health Project to Address Problems of Animal Production

The Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health today announced a new project to study and evaluate the effects of breeding large numbers of food animals in concentrated facilities. The Henry Spira/GRACE Project on Industrial Animal Production, sited at the School and named for activist Henry Spira, will coordinate research and discussion on all aspects of industrial animal production (IAP) including its effects on human health, the environment, and the animals.

Project director David Brubaker, PhD, said, "The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. The results are disastrous." Industrial animal production has been linked to diseases such as E. coli, Listeria, and Cryptosporidium which often come from the huge quantities of manure produced the system. For example, Dr. Brubaker estimated that a hog farm with 5000 animals produces as much fecal waste as a city with 50,000 people, yet the disposal methods are farm more primitive. "This waste contains harmful viruses, bacteria, and parasites," said Dr. Brubaker.

The Henry Spira/GRACE Project will serve as a global forum to examine these issues and many others such as how to develop and promote diets that minimize costs to society; understanding the relationship between human nutrition and environmental quality; and finding ways to provide healthy food for people without mistreating animals. The broad goal of the project is to build a scientific and ethical consensus for the development of sustainable food production systems which minimize resource use and promote human health and environmental quality.

The Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health addresses the dual challenges of protecting health and protecting the global environment to sustain life for future generations. The Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE) is a non-profit corporation committed to forming new links among those engaged in research, policy, and grass roots community work in order to promote solutions to preserve the future of the planet and protect the quality of the environment.

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham @ 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.