- Factory farming has changed the nature of food consumption and is affecting human health.
- Factory farms are a large-scale industrial set-up that houses animals such as cows, chickens, turkeys and pigs, which are raised to cater to the food industry
The nature of food consumption in the world has drastically changed over time, thanks to the concept of factory farms.
A factory farm can be defined as a large-scale industrial set-up that houses animals such as cows, chickens, turkeys and pigs, which are raised to cater to the food industry. Generally, animal farmers treat them with hormones and feed them antibiotics to maximize their growth and food output. According to 2018 UN figures, about 70 billion farm animals are reared for food each year.
Factory farms and environmental hazards
The sweeping change in meat production and consumption and the flood of meat and dairy products across the world has substantially contributed to the growing incidence of chronic diseases and environmental hazards. Housing so many animals under one food can produce much more waste than any normal farm, field or open space produces. This is why factory farms are linked with serious health and environmental hazards.
Factory farming gives rise to food-related emissions. While there are gas emissions from livestock, massive deforestation needed to clear land for grazing and growing feed-crops also leads to pollution. According to various studies, factory farms across the world produce 89,000 pounds of waste every second roughly, which are high on concentrated chemical and bacterial toxins.
For humans, animal waste can cause major health issues such as respiratory problems, skin infections, nausea and depression. These hazards can also lead to deaths for the caregivers who live within or around the factory farms. According to a study conducted by Minnesota-based agricultural extension engineer John Chastain, the pollution strength or toxins present in raw manure is 160 times more than raw municipal or domestic sewage.
Moreover, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in 2016 that toxins and infectious compounds from swine and poultry waste can go into soil and water, which can further permeate crops and plants.
Problem of superbugs
Another major issue with factory farming is the problem of superbugs among the animals sheltered there. According to an estimate, about 75 per cent of the antibiotics used in the US and the European Union countries are used on farm animals.
Animals being fed antibiotics means humans indirectly consume the drugs in low doses transferred through the meat they consume. Similarly, treated water from various waterways too has animal waste in them, which passes on supergerms to humans who consume that water.
In the past, factory farming has led to the outbreak of serious diseases such as swine influenza, avian influenza, foot-and-mouth disease, and mad-cow disease that are easily passed on the humans who eat them.
All in all, coming up with a sustainable and organic option for factory farms is definitely the need of the hour. That’s all for now. I will be back on more shows on clean energy, renewables and climate change themes.