In its most recent report, the International Livestock Research Institute found that a boom in meat production encourages epidemics. New diseases appear approximately every four months, and while many are not dangerous, diseases such as avian flu, H1N1 swine flu, and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) have “huge potential impacts.” Researchers found that more than 60 percent of transmissible human pathogens originate from intensely confined farm animals. While wealthy countries can keep farm animals relatively disease-free, poorer ones do not have as much capacity to control outbreaks. Costs, however, are felt everywhere—the SARS epidemic of 2003 cost $50 to $100 billion worldwide.
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