THE IMPACTS OF FACTORY FARMING
We rear and slaughter an estimated sixty five billion farm animals worldwide every year. Nearly 2 in every 3 of them spend their lives in factory farms - farming systems that prioritise maximum production above all else.
This modern phenomenon creates vast quantities of seemingly cheap meat, milk and eggs. But it comes as a cost. Animals are treated as commodities and are often raised in intense confinement. Factory farming is highly dependent on large quantities of limited resources such as grain-based feed, water, energy and medication. In short:
• Factory farming is dangerous, threatening our health and wellbeing, and the welfare of farm animals
• ...view middle of the document...
We had a well in my village, but it dried up. Then the one in the next village dried up."'
The Independent, 20114
'Hindiya is 10 years old... her father and siblings are on the move, wandering wherever they hear there might be water… By the time we caught up with them, they'd been walking for 17 days, almost nonstop... Eating is a luxury. Hindiya's family didn't have any food this morning, and they have nothing to eat tonight... Herders - like Hindiya's family - who used to settle down for six months at a time are now lucky if they can stay somewhere for a month. And in between settled stints there's hunger, poverty, dying livestock and walking, walking and more walking in search of water.'
''[U]nless something is done [to tackle climate change], the current suffering offers a grim foretaste of the future - temperatures in east Africa are going to rise and rainfall patterns will change, making a bad situation worse.'
The Guardian, 20066
1. BBC, 2011, Save the Children Says East Africa Appeal Best in History
2. IPCC, 2007, Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
3. FAO, 2006, Livestock's Long Shadow
It’s not just farm animals that suffer from factory farming – our health is also put at risk. The provenance of our meat and dairy products can affect their quality and nutritional values. And with their focus on high numbers and confined spaces, factory farms can be the perfect breeding grounds for infectious zoonotic* diseases.
Bad meat, bad health
Some factory farmed products have been shown to be less nutritious. Recent studies1 have shown that meat from intensively farmed animals can have lower levels of beneficial omega-3 and a less favorable ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. An inadequate intake of omega-3 and an unbalanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 have been linked with cardiovascular disease and certain cancers2. A recent Compassion in World Farming report shows that extensively farmed animal products often contain higher levels of antioxidants, iron and lower levels of fat3. The rise of factory farming and ‘cheap’ meat has also led to significant overconsumption problems in many countries around the world; heavy red and processed meat consumption has been linked to a number of serious health-related conditions, including obesity, diabetes and cancer.
Heavy red meat consumption can increase the risk of some cancers developing by as much as 43%.
World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) (2011)4
The conditions on a typical factory farm – where animals are forced to live in close proximity to one another in cramped spaces – facilitate the spread of bacterial pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella. These can cause gastroenteritis in humans and, in extreme cases, death.
A large-scale UK survey found that battery-cage farms are six times more likely than non-cage farms to be infected with the...