Negative Impacts of Factory Farming To the Environment and Human Health
Just like many industries, factory farming can result into several environmental and human health negative implications that affect people near and far. Factory farming contributes to the society through the production of some vital or desired products, but we have to become more aware of the finite nature of the global resources and the effects of this industry upon these resources as well as our health. The greatest concern should be on the pollution of surface and ground water resources, industrial and agricultural chemicals used in factory farming, contamination and degradation of soil, release of toxic and odorous substances and the general effects on human health. It is clear that factory farming is destroying both the environment and human health.
Factory farming has been destroying the environment through production of very large amounts of waste within a small area with inadequate systems available to deal with this waste. The model also requires enormous resource inputs and energy for efficient production that includes generation of feeds and transports (Barker, 2). According to USDA, animals in factory farms approximately generate more than one million tons of manure daily. This amount is similar to three times of that produced by the country’s total human population. Comparing the disposal of this waste to that of human waste, it is far less regulated since it is typically stored in huge, open air lagoons often similar to soccer pitches (FarmSanctuary.com, 3). Animal waste can contaminate the supplies of water as well as emit harmful gases into the atmosphere if overused in the farms. This negatively impacts both the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems around these operations (Halden, 2).
Factory farming also requires large amounts of water and pesticides used in the production of this feed. This leads not only to water resources depletion but also to pesticide pollution and soil erosion (Barker, 5). Residues of these pesticides may remain in the animal feeds and this may lead to the possibility of traces of the same toxic residues in the animal foods themselves (FarmSanctuary.com, 8). The growing daily demand for these industrial agriculture products may have significant contribution to emission of greenhouse gases from decomposition of their wastes and this translates to climate change. During digestion, ruminants found in these factory farms emit methane, one of the infamous greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming (Halden, 4).
The unnatural feeds fed to farm factory animals, the excessive amounts of antibiotics offered to the same and the resulting hormones place the human population at the risk of contracting chronic diseases, zoonotic diseases, drug-resistant bacteria and obesity (FarmSanctuary.com, 3). Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), animal products are the main source of saturated fat found in the American diet. Fat saturation has been linked to obesity and heart diseases. Research has proven that the unnatural feeds used in growth promotion of the animals in factory farms have raised the content of fat saturation in meat (Safeforanimals.com, 4).
The poor sanitation and improper waste management associated with factory farms as well as poor animal waste management can lead to contamination of food supply through spread of bacteria such as E coli and salmonella. CDCP claims that food borne illnesses affect 76 million Americans annually and thousands of these die (FarmSanctuary.com, 6). Some diseases that are communicable from animals to humans such as Swine Flu and Avian Flu can be transmitted by factory farm animals of which these diseases have the potential of becoming pandemics (Safeforanimals.com, 7). For instance, experts argue that the outbreak of Swine Flu was most likely caused by the overcrowding of pigs in factory farms and the subsequent storage of their waste in large open-air lagoons.
Barker, Rodney. “Environmental Impact of Factory Farms.” Socially Responsible Agricultural Project. SRAProject.org, 2015. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. <http://www.sraproject.org/environmental-impact-of-factory-farms/>.
FarmSanctuary.com. “Factory Farming and Human Health.” Farm Sanctuary. Farm Sanctuary, Inc., 2015. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. <http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/factory-farming-and-human-health/#>.
FarmSanctuary.com. “Factory Farming and the Environment.” Farm Sanctuary. Farm Sanctuary, Inc., 2015. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. <http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/factory-farming-and-the-environment/#>.
Halden, Rolf, and Kellogg Schwab. Environmental Impact of Industrial Farm Animal Production. http://www.ncifap.org/: PCIFAP Commission, A Report of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. <http://www.ncifap.org/_images/212-4_envimpact_tc_final.pdf>.
Safeforanimals.com. “Effects of Factory Farming on Human Health.” SAFE For Animals : New Zealand Animal Rights. Safe.org, 2015. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. <http://www.safe.org.nz/effects-factory-farming-human-health>.