The United Nations, the World Watch Institute (1), and even veterinarians
writing for the European Meat industry (2), have all recently issued
extremely serious warnings about the impact of livestock production
on the global environment and world food supplies. A number of the
environmental problems identified by the UN can be attributed to
factory farming. Some of these include: water shortage, the depletion
of marine fisheries, and an increase of nitrogen in our soil (3).
Globally, and especially in third world countries, meat production
has a negative effect on world hunger. Factory farming is the worst
culprit since it encourages escalating meat consumption among those
who can afford it at the expense of those who cannot - the poor.
Furthermore, it provides minimal employment.
In most parts of the world, animal protein was traditionally eaten
only in modest quantities. Since the discovery of antibiotics and
the subsequent birth of factory farming and its relentless promotion
by Western companies, the consumption of meat of all kinds has risen
The need to feed ever-increasing numbers of animals reduces the
amount of grains and other plant proteins for direct human consumption.
Poultry takes 2.7 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat (4).
Alongside this, the problem of pollution gets ever worse.
Livestock production is a major contributor to most of the world's
environmental problems, including acid rain. Ammonia gas from manure
and slurry combine with oxides of sulphur and nitrogen in the atmosphere,
produced by burning fossil fuels, to produce sulphuric and nitric
acid. These acidify the ground or rivers and can dissolve out metals,
particularly aluminum, from the soil, washing them into rivers where
they poison fish. Meanwhile, plants are damaged by being deprived
of the metal ions in the soil that they need for growth (5).
Fodder grown on irrigated land also demands large quantities of
water as do meat processing plants. Effluent from poultry farms
and processing plants is frequently discharged into rivers, adding
to the burden of pollution. According to an EPA study, in the U.S.
animal waste production in 1992 was 13 times greater than human
sanitary waste production (6).
Factory farming methods promote disease in the stock, necessitating
the reckless overuse of antibiotics to counteract disease. The National
Academy of Sciences recently concluded that agricultural uses of
antibiotics pose a risk to the public health by potentially creating
drug resistant bacteria that could be spread to humans (7). Often
meat from intensive farming methods is contaminated with pathogens
that cause food poisoning in humans, for example, salmonella, listeria,
campylobacter and E. Coli.
Intensive duck farming causes serious environmental damage, while
forcing billions of living creatures into lives of human-made deprivation.
References (part seven)
1. Will we still eat meat? Article by Ed Ayres,
editorial director World Watch Institute, Time magazine, Nov. 1999.
2. Skjerve E., Ewald S., Skovgaard N., The European Meat Industry
in the 1990's, Meat Production and the Environment. Ecceamst 1991,
Audet Tijdschriften B.V.
3. McCarthy, Michael, UN report warns of Earth's unsustainable future,
The Independent, 16 September 1999.
4. Glen Martin, And Baby Makes 6 Billion, San Francisco Chronicle,
October 11, 1999.
5. Factory Farming & the Environment, A Report for Compassion
in World Farming Trust (ISBN 1 900156 11 3, October 1999).
6. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water Standards
and Applied Sciences Division, Environmental Impacts of Animal Feeding
Operations; December 31, 1998.
7. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. The Use
of Drugs in Food Animals: Benefits and Risks. Washington, DC, National
Academy Press; 1998.