We already knew that industrial agriculture is unreasonably cheap because they don’t pay for externalities, but it’s nice to see a formal, well respected study say the same thing:
“Factory farming takes a big, hidden toll on human health and the environment, is undermining rural America’s economic stability and fails to provide the humane treatment of livestock increasingly demanded by American consumers, concludes an independent, 2 1/2 -year analysis that calls for major changes in the way corporate agriculture produces meat, milk and eggs.”
reports the Washington Post in “Report Targets Costs Of Factory Farming“.
The ALDF put it this way:
“The report, ‘Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Production in America,’ concludes that ‘concentrated animal feeding operations,’ or CAFOs, not only fail to provide the humane treatment of livestock, but also have an impact on human health and the environment, and undermine rural America’s economic stability.”
But until you have the hour or so it will take to read the entire report (it’s 124 pages long) here’s a snippet about what factory farming does to the health of the farm workers, the nearby communities, and the consumers:
“Those engaged directly with livestock production, such as farmers, farm workers, and their families, typically have more frequent and more concentrated exposures to chemical or infectious agents.” [...]
“Fifty years ago, a US farmer who raised pigs or chickens might be exposed to several dozen animals for less than an hour a day. Today’s confinement facility worker is often exposed to thousands of pigs or tens of thousands of chickens for eight or more hours each day. And whereas sick or dying pigs might have been a relatively rare exposure event 50 years ago, today’s agricultural workers care for sick or dying animals daily in their routine care of much larger herds and flocks. This prolonged contact with livestock, both healthy and ill, increases agricultural workers’ risks of infection with zoonotic pathogens.” [...]
“ifap facilities generate toxic dust and gases that may cause temporary or chronic respiratory irritation among workers and operators.” [...]
“The growing importance of MRSA as a public health problem in the United States and elsewhere, as well as the growing body of evidence suggesting transmission between farm animals and humans and among humans, makes it particularly relevant to the discussion
of antimicrobial use in food animals”
I’ve emboldened the parts I felt most relevant. The report is long and they discussed e. coli and salmonella as well, indicating a strong relation between factory farming and damage to public health.
The industry is already responding that they’re willing to change. And programs are going to be implemented to change some portions of the industry to make factory farming less damaging to the environment, human health, workers, and animals. But those measures have problems. For starters, they will probably be phased in over a ten year period. That means we won’t see real change anytime soon. Another problem is that the kinds of changes the industry is willing to make likely aren’t nearly the level of change needed to make significant differences in the four areas of concern:
- humane treatment of animals,
- human health,
- the environment,
- rural America’s economic stability.
What’s the moral of the story? You guessed it: Go vegan! By going vegan you an avoid the worst types of factory farming without even trying. Your consumer choice can make a difference. By going vegan you refuse to support the system that abuses animals, the system that endangers human health through overuse of antibiotics (and pesticides), the system that contributes to climate change and harms the environment for all of us, or the system that undermines rural America’s economic stability. Go vegan!
(Or, if you’re already vegan, share this information to help others go vegan!)