The Grim Reality Of Industrial Agriculture: How Modern Agricultural Techniques Are Affecting People And The Planet
Factory farming has reshaped contemporary agriculture, ushering in an industrial scale of production profoundly different from the simpler forms witnessed by our ancestors thousands of years ago.
Yet, it is this very efficiency that has led to terrible and often unseen consequences for our planet and its people.
Discover the grim and devastating impacts of factory farming in Farmageddon Book Summary.
Learn how much water it takes to produce one kilo of beef, why so many children suffer from asthma due to factory farms in California’s Central Valley, and what you can do to help counteract these unfortunate trends.
It’s time to take a hard look at the consequences of our industrialized agricultural methods, and take action to ensure that Mother Nature is not put at risk.
The Industrial Revolution In Agriculture: How Factory Farming Is Destroying Traditional Farming And The Animal Kingdom
Factory-like, “mega” farming of meat, milk and eggs is swiftly replacing traditional methods due to a drastic revolution in agricultural production over the last few decades.
Nowadays, human labor on farms has been almost completely replaced by machinery – and it’s hard to find a farm employing farmhands.
What has risen in their place are factory farms that crowd lots of one type of animal into small spaces, dosing them heavily with drugs and using machines to move them from place to place.
Around two-thirds of the world’s 70 million farm animals are raised like this.
Additionally, mega-dairies are becoming increasingly common.
These take thousands of cows under one roof and utilize industrial methods for milking them.
California’s first mega-dairy was opened back in 1994; now there are over 1,600 dairy farms collectively housing up to 1.75 million cows combined!
Last but not least, 60 percent of our world’s eggs come from factory hens which live in overcrowded facilities with little space to spread their wings freely.
Factory Farming Is Rapidly Destroying Our Environment And Our Health
It’s a proven fact that factory farming has some devastating effects on the environment, and one of its most concerning outcomes is the contamination of both water and air supplies.
This is because factory farming churns out a large amount of animal waste which is stored in artificial lagoons attached to the farms.
Unfortunately, these lagoons aren’t completely secure, so this animal waste seeps into the ground and pollutes our water sources – including those that are close to mega-dairies.
Not only this, but industrial farming also produces polluting gasses and nitrates which make the air near such farms especially unhealthy.
In fact, in the Central Valley of California, research has shown that children who live close to these mega-dairies are three times as likely to suffer from asthma compared to other areas.
The environmental costs of factory farming are immense, and it should serve as a warning for us all about how important it is for us to take steps towards sustainable food production.
Polluting both our water supply and air quality is not worth it if we’re thinking long-term.
How Factory Farming Is Destroying Animal Habitats And Endangering Our Food Supply
The impacts of industrial farming on birds and bees is one of the many casualties of this form of agriculture.
With the destruction of animal habitats, such as the extra hedgerows present in smaller farms, and heavy use of nitrogen fertilizer resulting in clover depletion, birds and bees are finding it difficult to remain safe and find resources.
In 2010, a report from The Nature Conservancy suggested that 100,000 km of UK hedges have disappeared since 1980.
This has been clearly detrimental to the lives of birds and insects that once used these hedgerows for shelter or food.
Additionally, factory farms rely heavily on nitrogen fertilizer which can cause a lack of earthworms in bird diets.
Bee populations are now suffering too; due to an absence of clover found in natural rotations due to heavy fertilization this vital pollinating species is losing its habitat and becoming increasingly endangered.
Now more than ever we depend on these essential creatures for food security, as one-third of agricultural production relies on bee pollination according to the United Nations estimates.
To combat their declining numbers factory farms must bring them in from external sources- such as Californian almond growers who import 40 billion bees annually from Australia!
The Horrific Consequences Of Industrial Fish Farming
Fish farming is having an unimaginable impact on the oceans and its inhabitants.
Every year, millions of tons of tiny fish are being scooped up to create fishmeal that’s used to feed farmed cows, pigs, chickens and even other farmed fish.
For example, in 2010 alone the UK purchased 135,000 tons of fishmeal.
The consequences are catastrophic as these massive amounts of tiny fish are depleting bird populations off the coast of Peru from 40 million to just 1.8 million because these birds rely on anchovies for food, which are being destroyed for this same purpose.
This isn’t even taking into account the misery endured by the farmed fish themselves who live in cramped cages or jam-packed enclosures; diseases run rampant and 10 to 30 percent of all farmed salmon die before reaching our plates – no wild animal should have to endure these atrocities!
It’s clear that Fish farming is causing irreparable damage not only to wildlife but ecosystems as well and therefore has no place in a sustainable future.
Factory Farming Sacrifices Precious Land And Threatens Food Insecurity
Cramming more animals into small spaces isn’t efficient even when it comes to land usage.
While you might think this is a great idea for saving space, the reality is that producing animals for consumption still requires a lot of land- much more than you’d think.
An 892 square meter chicken shed producing 150,000 chickens per year, for example, needs 90 hectares of ghost acres in order to feed the animals.
Moreover, a large amount of cereal grains and soy meal is used to feed factory farmed animals- up to 70% in wealthy countries!
In fact, this grain could feed 3 billion people if used otherwise.
Unfortunately, 45 million hectares of land were taken from developing countries around the world just for this reason back in 2009 alone.
In Argentina itself, 200,000 hectares of precious forests are lost every year just for soy production; even indigenous lands are not spared as 40,000 hectares were taken away from the Qom tribe for the same purpose back in 2009.
Clearly, cramming more animals into smaller spaces is not only cruel but also space inefficient and unsustainable- it ignores precious resources that can be put towards feeding humanity instead.
Factory Farming Squanders Precious Water And Oil Resources
Factory farming is taking a huge toll on our natural resources – specifically oil and water.
Oil is used in the production of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other substances essential to growing crops for feeding livestock, and it takes an average of 6.3 barrels per hectare.
That’s about $200 worth of oil!
On top of that, one-quarter of the world’s precious freshwater is used up by producing meat and dairy products; making just one kilogram of beef requires almost 90 bathtubs full!
And it gets worse – when compared to grain and vegetable production, meat requires ten times more water per calorie.
Fortunately, organic farming methods are much more efficient when it comes to using oil and water.
Producing organic milk and beef uses 40 percent less energy than their non-organic counterparts.
In fact, if we switched only 10 percent of corn production to organic in the United States alone, there would be an annual saving of 4.6 million barrels of oil and $143 million!
The Negative Impact Of Factory Farming Goes Far Beyond Just Higher Prices
Factory farming is taking its toll around the world, leading to increased famine in some of the most vulnerable countries and regions.
As commodity speculators have taken advantage of the high demand for livestock feed, crop prices went up significantly in the span of just a few months.
In one notable case, bread prices rose by 75% in Lusaka, Zambia between September 2010 and April 2011.
Rising food prices leave many people without access to nutrition, with estimates showing that 50 million were pushed into poverty as a result in late 2010 alone.
As factory farming continues to spread to more and more areas – including developing countries – it will lead to an increase in negative environmental impacts such as oil burning, excessive water use, and pollution.
Unfortunately, rural farmers working in developing countries are also likely to suffer from this technique as they are unable to keep up with the new high-intensity methods of industrial farming.
A heartbreaking example is Maharashtra, India which has since 1995 recorded over 250,000 farmer suicides due largely to their being unable to keep up with current industrial farming techniques.
The Effects Of Factory Farming On Consumers: From Disease And Drug Resistance To Obesity
It’s no secret that factory-farmed meat can have adverse effects on our health.
Not only will cramming lots of animals in tight spaces lead to viruses and bacteria spreading easily, but the immune systems of these animals are much weaker due to their living conditions.
Unfortunately, this means that humans are prone to the same infections, resulting in 9.4 million food poisoning cases in the US each year – with salmonella and Campylobacter (a poultry and pig pathogen) making up a large portion of those cases.
To prevent these factory animals from becoming sick, they’re often dosed with high doses of antibiotics – leading to increased antibiotic resistance when those pathogens make it into a human host.
In the EU alone, 25,000 people die annually from said antibiotic-resistant infections.
Not only that, but the ratio of “bad” fats (saturated) compared to “good” fats (omega-3/6) is 50:1 in factory-farmed animals compared to 3:1 in organically raised ones; which is linked to rising obesity rates – with half of all US citizens projecteded to be obese by 2030 according to current trends.
Ultimately eating less factory-farmed meat brings clear health benefits as described by a state study in the UK; if people reduced their saturated fat intake from meat by 30%, coronary heart disease rates would drop by 15%.
The Pros And Cons Of Genetically Modified Crops In The Fight Against Hunger
The potential of genetically modified, or GM, crops to help solve the worldwide food crisis could be vast.
But due to a range of social and environment-related issues, this potential remains largely unredeemed.
GM grains are designed by scientists to have changes to their genetic makeup that could meet the world’s rising demand for food.
One such GM grain, Golden Rice, contains extreme levels of beta-carotene and could potentially save 1–2 million people every year from a fatal Vitamin A deficiency caused by malnutrition.
Unfortunately, there are several drawbacks that prevent us from realizing its full potential.
GM crops are often resistant to strong pesticides which result in farmers spraying hyper-potent chemicals onto their crops, severely damaging the surrounding environment.
Additionally, genetic drift can occur – when a stray GM seed blows onto a non-GM farm and saps all the nutrients from the ground leaving other crops to starve.
The Controversial And Unethical World Of Animal Cloning And Modification
Modifying and cloning animals to increase profits can have serious consequences for animal rights.
Cloning reproduces animals that have already been bred to the extremes and run the risk of suffering from the physical strain of this intense breeding.
Not just that, but many cloned animals are born with deformities or do not survive at all.
The success rate for cloning is a dismal 30 out of every 1,000 attempts.
Modifying animals also comes with its own risks.
For example, geneticist Avigdor Cahaner bred a featherless chicken so factory-farmers could squeeze even more birds in cages to profit off of their eggs and meat.
Similarly, Chinese scientists are working on cows that produce human-like milk in order to get even more profit from them without giving any thought to the welfare of these creatures.
In essence, altering and cloning animals can be incredibly profitable – at the expense of animal rights and ethics.
Chinese Pig Farmers Going Whole Hog With Industrial Practices, Sparking Food Safety Questions
China is quickly becoming a major player in the world of industrial farming.
With its enormous population, demand for meat is at an all-time high and Chinese food companies are looking to meet this demand by filling their farms with as many pigs as possible, through industrial techniques.
Companies like Muyuan, located in Henan Province, are raising 9 million pigs per year and are even importing high-yielding sows from Western countries and transporting them on commercial airplanes.
While these practices have made it more profitable for pig farmers to raise pigs on a large scale, they don’t come without consequences.
Sadly, there have been reports of farmers injecting their pigs with steroids like Clenbuterol – a practice which poisoned 300 people in 2011 – as well as other scandals like mixing toxic melamine into milk products to cheat protein tests in 2008.
These incidents have made consumers cautious about where their food comes from and how it’s produced.
As a result of China’s industrial farming practices, consumers are now facing potential health risks that could have long-term consequences.
Put An End To Food Waste And Return To Traditional Farming Practices For Sustainable And Equitable Food Production
It’s time we take steps to undo the damage caused by factory farming.
Reducing food waste and returning to traditional farming techniques can be an important part of that process.
We know that across the world, an enormous amount of food is wasted every day and if we focus on decreasing this number, we can help curb hunger and save resources simultaneously.
The UN estimates that 28 percent of all agricultural land worldwide is used to produce food that ends up being wasted and if this percentage could be cut in half, it could potentially feed another billion people and provide domestic water for 9 billion others.
Traditional methods of farming are also key when it comes to reversing the damage from industrial agriculture.
Ruminants like cows raised on grassy pastures would reduce our need for shipped grains or fish harvested for animal feed, two sources which could instead be used for humans directly.
They also don’t need as many chemicals used in cultivation as does industrial agriculture, since traditional farms replenish soil naturally with crop rotations and free-roaming animals grazing– which maintains soil pH balance at its optimal level.
Let’s work together to make changes towards healthier, more sustainable ways of providing enough food while still enjoying the comforts of modern life.
It starts with reducing food waste and making a return to traditional methods of farming!
Consumers Have The Power To Choose Traditional Farming With Informed Decisions
As a consumer, you are able to have a huge impact on how food is produced and the decisions you make, as well as what products you consume, can determine this.
Retailers will only stock items that make them a profit so by buying items that are traditionally farmed and produced, you create an increased demand for those types of products.
This then makes traditional farming more popular and ultimately more profitable.
In order for consumers to make these informed choices, great initiatives have been put in place to help us.
For instance, most labels and packages have clear information about its origin and contents when it comes to meat if you take the time to look for them.
In the United States, when buying beef looking for labels such as grass-fed or pasture-raised along with chickens labeled Animal Welfare Approved, Global Animal Partnership or Certified Humane is the way forward.
When it comes to milk and eggs in the US, look out for those products certified by Animal Welfare Approved while in the United Kingdom barn eggs come from hens kept in barns but not allowed outside space.
All of these certifications ensure that consumers are informed of what they’re buying fostering an informed decision making process taking away responsibility away from government subsidies that encourage factory farming.
It’s clear that with careful consideration and understanding consumers can significantly alter the momentum of industrial animal farming by making meaningful choices when it comes to their food purchases whist being ever mindful where the product originated from ensuring responsible sourcing of each item bought at our individual discretion.
The final summary of Farmageddon is that factory farming is bad for animals, the environment, and ultimately humanity itself.
If we want to see a better food production system, we need to become more active consumers who are willing to seek out certified labels and avoid products with false advertising gimmicks.
At its core, this book encourages us all to make more conscious decisions about what food we purchase in order to create more sustainable practices in the food industry.