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Global resources

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 dramatically.

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.


Report Contents

Part One

Size of the U.S. industry
Types of ducks
Intensive confinement
Bill trimming (debeaking)
Viva! ends duck debeaking in Britain
Wire flooring
Slatted floors
Food and drink
Water denied
Behavioral patterns
References (part one)


Breeding ducks

Amount of living space
Sexual patterns
Forced molting
Duck eggs
Parent stock
References (part two)


The Government and ducks

The legal position
References (part three)



Electrical stunning
Stunner failings
Boiled alive
References (part four)


Disease patterns

Medicated feeds
Global diseases
Diseases of intensification
References (part five)


Duck suppliers

Maple Leaf Farms
Grimaud Farms
Metzer Farms
Culver Duck
Some of the Major supermarkets stocking duck meat
References (part six)


Global resources

References (part seven)