Charalambos Kasimis, Professor of the Agricultural University of Athens, talked to Sarantis Michalopoulos and in an interview about his op-ed “Agriculture and coronavirus (COVID-19)” published by ENA’s Observatory on Sustainability & Well-being. 

ENA Institute reposts the interview:

The growing number of diseases transmitted from animals to humans is closely linked to the way food is produced and the intensification of animal production, especially large-scale agribusiness, a Greek professor has said.

Charalambos Kasimis, a professor at the Agricultural University of Athens, argues that this model seems to have historically responded to the growing demand for agricultural products and food, increasing its productivity at high cost, though, for the environment, climate and biodiversity.

“In recent years, the development of the industrial model has expanded and is accelerating in Latin America and Africa.”

The rapid increase in global demand for agricultural products and food, which is estimated to skyrocket by more than 70% by 2050, is conducive to large-scale investment in deforestation and land grabbing by small farmers,” he wrote in a op-ed published by the Institute of Alternative Policies.

He emphasised the case of Brazil and other countries around the Amazon that led to a 450,0002 km deforestation, which corresponds to the area of a country such as Sweden.

Brazil now accounts for 1/4 of the world market and is the largest exporter of meat, but also the second-largest country after China in carbon dioxide emissions from meat and dairy products.

He said the disruption of animal habitats poses immediate risks to human health. “Microorganisms, which until recently were related to these animals without being contagious due to evolution and adaptation, are now coming into contact with humans and their ecosystem”.

“As a result, conditions are created that are conducive to causing epidemics and pandemics.”

“In other words, the development of large farms – businesses near forests and remote regional areas, brings productive animals and people in contact with wildlife populations that carry various pathogens, for which there is no immunity in farm animals,” the Greek professor concluded.