Fight against factory farming risking human health and climate harm goes to Strasbourg Court

Mon, 08 Aug 2022

No5’s Philip Rule, Michael Bimmler, and Harjeevan Narulla are part of the small team of legal counsel, led by Michael Mansfield QC. They are instructed by Lorna Hackett of Hackett and Dabbs LLP.

On 26 July 2022 the NGO Humane Being filed an application at the European Court of Human Rights. The case originates in a challenge to factory farming in the UK alleging that the UK Government is in breach of its obligations to protect human rights under Articles 2, 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, in failing to address the risks of:

  1. PANDEMICS triggered by zoonotic diseases emanating from large numbers of farm animals kept in confined and cramped conditions;
  2. ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANT INFECTION triggered by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics on animals kept in those conditions just so that they survive the substandard living conditions; and
  3. CLIMATE CHANGE harm and the impact on GLOBAL WARMING by the substantial emission of greenhouse gases (including methane) from these animal concentrations, and by the destruction of carbon retentive forests to provide the large quantities of animal feed required. This environmental harm is plainly injurious to human health through the known consequences of global warming.

The application raises the danger to the climate of agricultural methane emissions -a gas with 80 times the warming capacity of CO2, and soy feed consumption in factory farming driving deforestation in the Amazon basin.

Given the urgency of the case an application has been made for the case to be assessed on a priority basis.

The objective is to hold the UK government accountable for its failure to protect the public from the immediate harm of climate change and the risk of future pandemics posed by factory farming.

Governmental support for factory farming is risking human deaths from the climate crisis, future pandemics, and antibiotic resistance. The UK is failing to both inform and protect the public from these established risks. The Secretary of State is challenged over his failure to discharge his fundamental duty to protect life, public health and safety through the duties:

  1. to establish a framework of laws, precautions, procedures and means of enforcement which will, to the greatest extent reasonably practicable, protect life, and/or human health; and/or
  2. to take reasonable steps to protect lives and human health from known (or that ought to be known), real, present and continuing risks posed by intensive and industrialised methods of animal farming

by means of adopting appropriate, proportionate, reasonable, and necessary measures for assessing, informing and curtailing intensive and industrialised methods of animal farming which incur the three avoidable risks to public health (above).

The legal challenge to end these risks has the support of many celebrities including Jerome Flynn, Peter Egan and Paul Cashmore, and scientists and experts from the UK, Australia, the USA, Sweden, Germany, Brussels, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Canada.

Factory farming at current levels is simply not compatible with the Government’s emission reduction commitments

Dr Alice Brough is a UK pig veterinarian and co-claimant to the legal challenge says:

“Intensive farms create the perfect breeding ground for disease, including those with human pandemic potential, with thousands of stressed animals crammed into filthy environments. Due to the conditions and common practices, antibiotics are often required in excess on these farms, furthering the risk to humans.

Since October 2021 there have been 116 UK outbreaks of avian influenza — almost a 400% increase on the 2020-21 season.

The vast feed requirements for intensively farmed animals lead to devastating deforestation in other parts of the world, such as South America, and contribute significantly to the climate crisis. Every part of this practice is a ticking time bomb for our species.”

Dr. Shireen Kassam, a medical consultant supporting the campaign, added:

“We are at risk of a pandemic far worse than Covid-19. The government has plans for dealing with 750,000 deaths from a flu pandemic which history and science show is most likely to come from a commercial animal farm.”

The volunteers at Humane Being welcome support and donations affording the public the opportunity to play its part and fund this case by donations at or at

News reports related to the case can be found at:




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