How China deals with its food supply has an impact on pandemics

With the world's largest high-speed rail network, a payments system that is largely conducted via phone apps, and half the world's solar-power plants, China often looks like a country at the technological frontier. When you consider how it feeds itself, though, it is still just catching up.

About 44 per cent of the country's livestock in 2010 were still raised in backyards and traditional mixed farms, where they mingled with crops and other animals. While that is a dramatic fall from a generation ago, when about 97 per cent of livestock were raised in traditional conditions, it trails countries like the US and Europe, where 95 per cent or more of pigs and poultry are raised in so-called "intensive systems" - in common parlance, factory farms.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2020, with the headline 'How China deals with its food supply has an impact on pandemics'. Subscribe