Thursday, 16 February 2012

Human Welfare Depending on Animal Welfare

In a new book on animal ethics, Animals and Public Health: Why Treating Animals Better is Critical to Human Welfare, Dr Aysha Akhtar, talking about Bird Flu, states, "We don't need a terrorist to wreak havoc. By confining billions of animals on factory farms, we have created a worldwide natural laboratory for the rapid development of a deadly and highly infectious form of the virus. The stressful and crowded conditions make a perfect breeding ground for new infectious diseases that can harm humans."

This is a specific example of the more general point made by the book: that the human condition is directly linked to how we treat animals. The book is published on 17th February by Palgrave Macmillan and is the sixth volume published as part of the Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics book series in partnership with the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics (Director the Revd. Professor Andrew Linzey).

Dr Akhtar explores the lives of animals in violent homes, factory farms, experimental laboratories, the entertainment industry and the wildlife trade. She reveals how their treatment is related to issues as diverse as domestic violence, the obesity epidemic, the world's most ominous infectious diseases, animal attacks, high-profile drug failures and climate change.

Dr Akhtar argues that, "... public health has long-ignored the relationship between our health and animal treatment, largely owing to a misconception that animal welfare is in opposition to human welfare."

So, instead, we improve the lives of animals and we improve human living.

Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., is a neurologist and public health specialist and a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. She works for the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The book is written in her personal capacity and is the result of many years of scientific research.

Andrew Linzey said, "This is a must read for all those who think caring for animals is a separate issue from human welfare. The scientific evidence marshalled in this book ought to dispel any lingering doubts that a world in which animal abuse goes unchecked is a less safe world for human beings. This first book linking animals to public health is truly ground-breaking."

Animals and Public Health: Why Treating Animals Better is Critical to Human Welfare, is published on 17 February in the UK and the United States at £50 and $85 respectively.

For details of Palgrave Macmillan's current lists please see its website. Lindsey Ruthen, the Associate Publicist at Palgrave Macmillan, can be contacted by email at

The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics was founded in 2006 by its director Professor Andrew Linzey and is an independent Centre with the aim of pioneering ethical perspectives on animals through academic, research, teaching and publication. The Centre has more than 50 Fellows drawn from a variety of academic disciplines from throughout the world. For more information about the Centre and its Fellows go to its website (with email contact to, or

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