By: Yeshi Gymsto
Factory Farming is a modern agricultural method that raises animals for human consumption. In the past few decades, factory farms – also known as, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) have grown around the US significantly due to meat eaters. Factory farms confine thousands of chickens, cows, pigs, and other animals who are tightly fit in either cages or crates where they can hardly move. These animals are barely let outside and forced to eat corn, wheat, and soy instead of grass which results in weight gain. Most people are unaware of how factory farms confine and treat their animals, and how animals experience stress and depression. Consequently, injecting growth hormones and antibiotics lead to diseases in the meat. Consuming meat is one of the main contributors to obesity, high cholesterol, heart diseases and contribute to a higher risk of acquiring cancers. Factory farming has brought a disastrous impact on the world, creating chain reactions that harm everyone and everything.
Factory farming has a big impact on animals, humans, and has also been known to affect the environment. Similar to automobiles and planes, farm animals have affected everyone. “According to the UN, raising animals for food is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. As demand for animal products has grown, animal agriculture has gobbled up more and more water, energy, crops and land. Over recent decades, vast expanses of native habitat around the world have been cleared to grow crops to feed to animals — most of them in factory farms.” This is one of the most important issues in our society. However, it’s not publicly known by most, because big meat industries hide the truth from the media. One of the big reasons why the government doesn’t do anything about this situation is because they, themselves greatly benefit from it. “The meat and poultry industry’s economic ripple effect generates $864.2 billion annually to the U.S. economy or roughly 6% of the entire GDP.” Despite the positive effect the poultry industry has brought to the US, people have to consider that meat brings huge diseases to humans. Animal products make up a large portion of the American diet and are a primary source of heart disease and obesity.
Furthermore, the concept of Factory farming is increasing the revenue of factory owners, making local produce sell for less, and driving the farmers out of a job and selling to the consumers for very affordable prices. The number of farms has dramatically reduce over time as “In 1970, there were approximately 900,000 farms in the United States; by 1997, there were only 139,000.” As well as using alternative methods to enhance the size of the animal, they are also feeding them the wrong food.
Nearly all meat in the stores are from factory farms. People with no knowledge about factory farming might be deceived by how delicious the meat is and assume it’s from a good farm. But the reality is that it’s extremely cruel how the animals are handled. Comparing the growth of the chicken, “In 1925, it took 16 weeks to raise a chicken to 2.5 pounds. Today, chickens weigh double that in just six weeks!” In an average broiler, chickens “who survive their time in production are often slaughtered at just 42 days old.” The effects of growing at this rapid rate often lead to suffering and eventually death of the majority of chickens. With most chickens weighing three times their standard weight nowadays, some chickens struggle to even lift themselves up. Often some chickens are unable to raise their body high enough to reach food or water leading them to death by starvation. The process can also lead to having some parts of the chickens to be underdeveloped. “For others, their heart and lungs simply cannot cope with such unnatural growth. Every year, millions of young birds do not even survive the 5 short weeks ’till slaughter.” Also there are other animals such as cows and pigs who endure the same treatment as chickens. America raises some 100 million pigs and about 39 million cows for human consumption. These animals are raised in inhumane settings and crowded by their own kind.
Factory animals are also injected with hormones and fed corn or wheat to increase their size. “Currently, six different steroidal hormones are approved by the FDA for use in “food animals.” About 80 percent of all the antibiotics sold in America are used on farm animals. Their bodies cannot endure this rapid growth, which results in weakening conditions and deformities. For instance, injecting hormones into factory animals have such a negative side effect that “Hormones are banned for use in poultry in the U.S.” Despite this, factory farmers continue to use a plethora of hormones to inject into the animals in order to reap more products from animals by the increasing physical size of them.
Additionally, factory animals are confined in windowless areas where there is no access to fresh air, sunlight or the outdoors. This results in unhealthy animals and bad meat. According to the website MakeitPossible, “The first time they will see the outside world is the last day of their lives, when they are stuffed into crates and trucked to slaughter.” Also being fed a grain-based diet causes many conflicts for the animals. For instance, cows are supposed to eat grass but instead they are fed grain which makes them unhealthy. The effects on animals include bloating, a buildup of gas that can lead to death, and swelling of the liver. The trickle down effect of factory animals is that it can infect humans with pathogens such as E. coli, it can also increase other health problems. Due to the “Poor sanitation and waste management on factory farms and the poor management of animal waste”; poor treatment of these animals “can lead to the contamination of the food supply by bacteria like E.coli and salmonella.” Many fast food companies purchase their meat from the factory farms, and not only is this an unethical choice, but factory farming exploits tons of land around the rural areas of the U.S where people won’t see the reality of it.
Having animal farms in a community makes it unbearable to live in that environment. As estimated by the US Department of Agricultural, “confined farm animals generate more than 450 million tonnes of manure annually, 3 times more raw waste than generated by Americans.” Factory farms store animal waste, usually near the factory, where the people and the neighboring communities “can’t even enjoy their own backyards or open their windows on summer nights because the stench from CAFOs miles away is overwhelming.” Not only do residents often have to pay more in maintaining the manure spill cleanup in their communities caused by the waste, they are also affected by increasing health care costs. It also affects other neighboring ecosystems, like in Illinois where a local hog farm “spilled 200,000 gallons of manure into a creek, killing over 110,000 fish.” Furthermore, there have been cases where people become severely ill by drinking tap water because it has been contaminated with the chemical and the waste which the factory dumps. Robert Miltner, who’s an aquatic biologist for the Environment Protection Agency said “The water in those areas is not in good shape, and the primary cause of the [pollution] is not septic tanks, treatment plants, or fertilizer—it’s manure, mainly from large farms.” People who live near factory farms experience continuous threats that are released from the farms and are the leading contributors to major illnesses and even death in their communities.
Furthermore, factory farming is a huge contributor to global warming. In the world, deforestation for animal feed crops and grazing is estimated to produce 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year. Rather than using the land to let animals graze naturally, the land is used to make feed farms and diverts food from humans to factory farms. This leads masses of people without food to eat and a great lack of potable water. “Over 37 percent of methane emissions result from factory farming. Methane has a global warming potential 20 times higher than carbon dioxide. But that doesn’t make the carbon dioxide emissions any less staggering the fossil fuels used in energy, transportation, and synthetic pesticides/fertilizers emits 90 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. On a lesser note, factory farming also releases harmful compounds like hydrogen sulfide and ammonia that can cause immediate negative health effects in humans.” Over the past five years, the level of carbon dioxide has already crossed over our limit which is detrimental to human beings. Because of the carbon dioxide released, more heat is trapped in the atmosphere, and the more heat there is, the more harmful it is to the Earth’s system and life. With global pollution on the rise the amount of waste emitted just from maintaining the system is enough to make it one of the leading causes of global warming.
These statistics are absurd when you stop to think about it: in today’s world, factory farming is harming everyone substantially and the industries are only increasing the use of resources. The animals are forced into factory farms for human consumption where they are tortured by the farmers from the very beginning to the end. Factory farming has negative impacts on multiple ecosystems. Ultimately, it was human desire for cheaper animal products which created the factory farming trend and led to all the adverse effects included. Meat consumers might be happy with the taste and the price but many diseases, including obesity and heart problems are slowly grown in the human body because of it. At this point, what everyone can do to help is to stop purchasing meat that come from factory farms. Although completely stopping the consumption of meat can be difficult for most of the people, the benefits will outweigh the sacrifices in the long run. Another alternative can be for people to buy their meat from local free range farmers and butchers where animals are raised well. Not only will that stop the big meat industries from hurting the animals but human health will get better and it will have less impact on the environment.