Factory Farms: Bad For Animals And Bad For Your Health
The green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past, which are still portrayed in children’s books, have been replaced by windowless metal sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems—what is now known as “factory farming.”
Unlike organic livestock conditions, factory farming puts animals in gruesome concentration camp-like conditions to prepare them for horrible deaths. If you don’t think this is true, just simply watch documentaries like Food Inc., Death on a Factory Farm, Fresh, or simply search Google to view videos of animal cruelty on factory farms.
If you don’t think animals are sentient beings that deserve proper treatment, as they produce your eggs and dairy products or groomed to become your servings of meat, then you should be at least interested in how the treatment of factory farm animals affects your health.
1. A factory farm is a large-scale industrial operation that houses thousands of animals raised for food—such as chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs—and treats them with hormones and antibiotics to prevent disease and maximize their growth and food output.
2. Animals are fed and sprayed with huge amounts of pesticides and antibiotics, which can remain in their bodies and are passed on to the people who eat them, creating serious health hazards in humans.
3. The beaks of chickens, turkeys and ducks are often removed in factory farms to reduce the excessive feather pecking and cannibalism seen among stressed, overcrowded birds.
4. A typical supermarket chicken today contains more than twice the fat, and about a third less protein than 40 years ago.
5. 2 out of every 3 farm animals in the world are now factory farmed.
6. Confining so many animals in one place produces much more waste than the surrounding land can handle. As a result, factory farms are associated with various environmental hazards, such as water, land and air pollution.
7. The pollution from animal waste causes respiratory problems, skin infections, nausea, depression and even death for people who live near factory farms.
8. Dairy cows typically live to their third lactation before being culled. Naturally, a cow can live for 20 years.
9. Hog, chicken and cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.
10. Egg-laying hens are sometimes starved for up to 14 days, exposed to changing light patterns and given no water in order to shock their bodies into molting, a usually natural process by which worn feathers are replaced. It’s common for 5-10% of hens to die during the forced molting process.
11.Worldwide, about 70 billion farm animals are now reared for food each year.
Meet Your Meat and Dairy
Cows and cattle raised conventionally are often stuffed into feed lots known as confined animal feed operations, or CAFOs, and are given a diet primarily of genetically modified corn and grains. These animals are grass grazing animals that don’t belong in these conditions; they have masticating teeth for chewing grass or alfalfa and long complex digestive tracts to absorb plant nutrients. And they are accustomed to wandering about in open fields, or at least they used to be.
CAFOs are incredibly crowded with animals that are forced to stand in manure and urine while feeding or being milked. This confinement, along with the type of unnatural feed they’re forced to eat, makes them disease breeders. It is for this reasons that most antibiotics, 70-80%, are used for factory farm animals for both disease prevention and to stimulate unnatural growth. Growth stimulants are prohibited in Europe, but not here.
And those antibiotics can arrive in your meat and dairy, depleting your healthy bacteria and creating more antibiotic resistant pathogens, or super bugs. Mainstream medicine has been concerned about the constantly growing threat of super bugs for decades, and are now even greatly concerned over the use of antibiotics in livestock for that reason.
Deprivation and Disease
The factory-farming system of modern agriculture strives to produce the most meat, milk, and eggs as quickly and cheaply as possible—and in the smallest amount of space possible. Cows, calves, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, and other animals are kept in small cages or stalls, where they are often unable to turn around. They are deprived of exercise so that all their energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs, or milk for human consumption.
They are fed drugs that fatten them faster, and they are genetically manipulated to grow faster or produce much more milk or eggs than they would naturally. Because crowding creates an atmosphere that welcomes disease, animals in factory farms are fed and sprayed with huge amounts of pesticides and antibiotics, which remain in their bodies and are passed on to the people who consume them, creating serious human health hazards.
Both the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association have supported ending the use of antibiotics in this manner.(1,2) Although McDonald’s has announced that its suppliers will phase out growth-promoting antibiotics, the fast-food chain is not likely to decrease its overall use of antibiotics.(3) The industry simply could not continue to raise billions of animals per year in such extreme conditions without the drugs that allow animals’ bodies to survive conditions that would otherwise kill them.
For some time, farmers who labeled their milk “no rBGH” were threatened financially with “legal actions” by Monsanto. Farmer and media backlash has halted this violation of first amendment rights, and now dairy farmers are not being harassed for promoting their products as hormone free (or at least in the same way).
But rBGH treated milk, which has fallen out of favor with most health-conscious consumers, still comprises an estimated third of the milk in stores, and it is not labeled. Factory farm fowl is treated foully too, and their overcrowded conditions have led to large lots of eggs being recalled with massive breakouts of salmonella.
CAFO feed is usually a combination of corn and soy meal. Almost all corn and soy in the USA is genetically engineered or GMO. In addition to this GMO factor, which gets passed on to consumers, GMO farmers have to use excessive amounts of glyphosate pesticides, which is hazardous.
A New Pathogen Threatens Livestock, The Federal Government Looks Away
The soils of these GMO plants are saturated with glyphosate herbicide Roundup, Monsanto’s special toxic herbicide brew. Over time, the glyphosate mixed with soil and have produced a previously unknown, brand new pathogen.
So those soy and corn products used for bovine feed brews pass on this mysterious pathogen in addition to traces of these extremely toxic glyphosate pesticides.
Purdue Plant Pathology Professor Emeritus Don Huber, a pathologist with years of Army research and university experience, was the recipient of many alarming reports from livestock farmers in the Midwest. More of their animals were sickly, dying younger, and unable to reproduce or producing stillborn calves.
Don Huber investigated and discovered that the new pathogen was the probable source of their issues. So Huber sent a letter to the head of the USDA, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, explaining the situation and requesting a moratorium on Roundup pending further research.
In Europe this is considered acceptable as a precautionary principle, which calls for a moratorium of activity with suspected risks to health or environment until safety can be assured.
His letter was ignored. But soon after, several Midwest universities with agricultural leanings, including Purdue, denounced Don’s findings. All this should have been expected. As governor of Iowa prior to heading the USDA, Vilsack was named Governor of the Year in 2001 by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
Vilsack’s non-response to Huber, accompanied by a flurry of academic Huber bashing shortly after, show how little our federal food and health agencies care about our health and the future of farming in the USA.
Environmental and Health Concerns
Factory farms are harmful to the environment as well. Each day, factory farms produce billions of pounds of manure, which ends up in lakes, rivers, and drinking water. A Missouri hog farm paid a $1 million fine for illegally dumping waste, causing the contamination of a river and the deaths of more than 50,000 fish.
Of all the agricultural land in the U.S., 80 percent is used to raise animals for food and grow the grain to feed them—that’s almost half the total land mass of the lower 48 states. Chickens, pigs, cattle, and other animals raised for food are the primary consumers of water in the U.S.; for example, it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cow flesh, whereas it takes about 180 gallons of water to make 1 pound of whole wheat flour.
An estimated one out of every four cattle who enters a slaughterhouse may have E. coli.(29) A Consumer Reports study of 525 supermarket chickens found campylobacter in 81 percent of them and salmonella in 15 percent, with up to 84 percent of the bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Eggs pose a salmonella threat to one out of every 50 people each year. In total, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 76 million instances of foodborne illness each year and more than 5,000 deaths.
What You Can Do
We can stay away from all this by simply going organic. If you can purchase raw dairy products, go for it. Make sure your eggs are labeled free range and not just cage free. Cage free can be a con.
Support legislation that abolishes battery cages, veal crates, and intensive-confinement systems. Florida and Arizona voters have banned the tiny gestation crates used on hog farms. The United Kingdom prohibits the use of gestation crates and veal crates. The European Union is phasing out the use of battery cages as of 2012.
Eating organic grass fed meat that’s not injected with antibiotics or hormones is a little pricey, but is worth it if it’s in your budget. Try to buy from local area farms at farmers’ markets. Better yet, go vegetarian or vegan if that works for you.
SOURCE1, SOURCE2, SOURCE3