Factory farming is a term that may not be as commonly known of as it should be. It is an industry where billions of animals are raised together in confined spaces to produce meat, eggs and dairy products. This has been the main source of food for most people throughout history, but how does it affect our environment? The answer is not good and we need to take action sooner rather than later.
The negative effects of factory farming are prevalent and widespread. Animals raised in these conditions experience extreme stress, which results in higher levels of stress-related hormones being released into their bodies.
This can lead to many problems such as increased susceptibility to disease, losses from reproductive failure, self-mutilation and more. In addition, these animals take up more space per animal than if they were raised individually on pasture or another type of land where they could live naturally.
Factory farming is a relatively new concept that has been growing in popularity over the last century. There are many reasons why people have become increasingly horrified by how industrial animal agriculture operates, but it’s not just because of the welfare conditions of the animals.
People are starting to understand that industrial animal agriculture poses a significant threat to human health and the environment, too. The cruelty that animals endure in factory farms is responsible for an increasing number of animal welfare laws and companies are starting to realize they need to change their practices if they want to stay competitive.
The good news is that there are plenty of sustainable alternatives available that don’t require sacrificing the welfare of animals and our planet at the same time. Read on to learn more about why factory farming is so harmful to both humans and animals.
Human Health and the Environment
When it comes to health, the biggest concern with factory farming is the low quality of the food that we’re eating. Food grown in high-density, factory-like conditions doesn’t have the same nutritional value as the food grown in a more natural setting, and the vast majority of people who buy it aren’t eating enough of the right things to be healthy.
Growing crops in unnatural conditions and feeding them with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is also a major source of water pollution. This can have a major impact on both human and animal health by contaminating drinking water and food sources and destroying ecosystems.
Factory farming also has a significant impact on the environment. The vast amount of resources that are used to raise animals for food in industrial agriculture is hard to believe, but it’s important that we understand why it’s so harmful. First of all, the vast majority of the land used to produce food in industrial farming is arable land that could be used for growing crops that feed the human population.
While grains such as corn and soy are used for human consumption as well, there is enough land to grow crops specifically for us. There are also large areas (sometimes hundreds of thousands of acres) that are used to raise animals such as beef cattle, pigs, and chickens.
What happens when you raise animals in a confined area that requires grain, water, and land that could otherwise be used to grow crops? Well, the solution to this environmental concern is obvious: It’s clear that not all the resources used in factory farming would otherwise be used in other fields, right? Wrong.
As we mentioned above, the vast majority of the land that is used to grow crops is arable land that could be used to grow other crops. What happens when all the land used to raise animals is covered with fields of corn or soybeans? It’s important to note that the majority of the corn that is consumed in the U.S. is converted into corn syrup and/or corn sweetener for use in beverages, processed foods, and everything from plastics to packaging to paint.
The soy that is grown for human consumption is used to create soybean oil and soybean protein, which are used to produce meat, dairy products, vegetable protein products, and a variety of other items. What happens when all this land is used to grow crops that are then used to produce food? Well, it doesn’t really matter: It’s still not as good for the environment as it would be if it were used to grow crops that are eaten by humans.
Factory Farming is Horrible for Both Humans and Animals
You might be reading this article and thinking that we’ve focused entirely on human health, but that isn’t the case. The damage that industrial agriculture does to the environment is of course just as worrisome.
A 2015 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that if current trends continue, the amount of land used to produce animal products will increase by nearly 30 percent by the year 2030 while the amount of land used to grow crops will decrease by nearly that much.
The result will be an even more significant increase in water pollution, an even greater reduction in biodiversity, and a much higher likelihood of food shortages and malnutrition. These problems will only get worse if we don’t take action right away. Factory farming is also incredibly harmful to animals.
Animals in factory farms live short, miserable lives and are treated with a level of cruelty that is simply atrocious by any standard. Raising animals for food this way is also a major contributor to the meat and dairy industries, and their practices are equally appalling.
Animals raised for food are typically given very little room to move around, are subjected to unnatural behaviours such as the use of antibiotics, and are fed a diet that causes them great physical and psychological distress.
All of these things have been associated with a significant increase in the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. At present, around 1/3 of all human deaths are caused by diseases that are associated with the modern diet.
Factory Farming is Destructive to the Environment
While the health concerns with factory farming are significant, the environmental damage is equally staggering. The vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by growing crops, but not all of them are used for human consumption.
Growing crops to feed animals is a significant contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions, while the planting and harvesting of crops also requires significant amounts of water. Factory farming is so harmful to the environment that researchers and activists are now calling it a “disruptive technology.”
This means that it has a significant negative impact on the environment and could cause serious problems for human and animal health, but it has become so widespread that we can’t do anything about it.
What You Can Do to Help Animals and the Environment
Fortunately, there are plenty of sustainable alternatives available. The most important thing is to support companies and brands that are committed to changing their ways.
When companies recognize that the current practices are harming the environment, animal welfare, and human health, they have an incentive to change their practices and adopt more sustainable practices.
There are also a variety of ways that individuals can help protect the environment, including recycling whenever possible, eating less meat, and being more mindful of the products that you use. Keeping your home and workplace as environmentally friendly as possible will make a big difference.
Factory farming is incredibly harmful to humans and animals, and poses a significant threat to the environment. Fortunately, there are plenty of sustainable alternatives available, including the growing number of companies that have committed to changing their practices.