Introduction to industrial farming
What is Industrial Farming? Industrial farming is farms that carry livestock in a controlled environment usually held indoors. These farms play a dominant role in our food production process today in the U.S. Within these farms there are unethical actions taking place, such as abusive practices towards the animals. Most animals are bred to grow extremely fast which their bodies cannot support. The animals are bred for maximum meat, egg, and milk production as well as dealing with extreme confinement. These are just a few of the unethical practice within our industrial farming practice in the US. With a growing population, these industrial farms will never be able to suffice the growing demand for food, but what about our natural resources and our communities? The article, Factory Farming explains how industrial farming is depleting our natural resources, and affecting our health, “ The extreme amount of waste created by raising so many animals in one place pollutes our land, air, and water. Residents of rural communities surrounding factory farms report high incidents of illness, and their property values are often lowered by their proximity to industrial farms. To counteract the health challenges presented by overcrowded, stressful, unsanitary living conditions, antibiotics are used extensively on factory farms, which can create drug-resistant bacteria and put human health at risk.” Today more than 95% of animals are raised in factory farms according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. To further our discussion on Environmental Wellness: Industrial Farming and Cancers, we will look into the illnesses and the possible solutions for this growing problem in our Country.
Research on links to cancer/illness
Over the years, much research has been done to talk about the risk of cancers caused by today’s industrialized farming. First and foremost, it was found by Freeman, et al. that the risk for colon cancer increased significantly in farmers who raised poultry, such as chicken. Additionally, those who raised poultry were also at higher risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The risk of cancer extends further than just poultry farmers, those who care for sheep are at an increased risk for multiple myeloma. Farmers who devote much of their time working with their livestock, they are exposed to these animals’ bacteria and diseases, which often times is what contributes to the development of the above listed cancers. Another cause of cancers which have been found increasingly common in farmers are melanoma and lip cancer. Associated Press contributes this to be from the over abundance of UV sunlight exposure that farmers experience from their outdoor labors. Through this research, it has been clearly proven that it is incredibly dangerous for farmers to work in their workforce due to the increased risk of possible cancers. Eliminating livestock and poultry farms, by society converting to veganism can greatly decrease these cancer risks.
Many organizations have been researching the effects of industrial farming over the last 20 years. One of the largest areas of concern for public health is the increase of antibiotic resistant bacteria. According to Food and Water Watch, “80% of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are by agriculture”. As industrial farms continue to overuse antibiotics as a way to prevent and cure diseases caused by overcrowded farms, the bacteria involved are developing resistance to the antibiotics. In turn, the resistant bacteria are spreading to humans by animal food, contaminated waste, and even transferred directly from the animals to farmers. This is causing humans to suffer from serious and even deadly bacterial infections because the bacteria are not killed by antibiotics anymore. “Over two million Americans suffer from an antibiotic-resistant infection every year, and 23,000 people die,” says the Food and Water Watch. Lastly, even with the current research to prove the growing resistance of bacteria and its link to factory farming, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to require factory farms to stop the use of antibiotics for animals.
One solution to industrial farming is to encourage people to buy foods from local organic farms. By doing this they would not only be benefiting their community’s economic status, but they would also be preventing the addition of harmful substance in to the environment in several different ways. One of those ways is the burning of fewer fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions would decrease drastically by not having to transport the goods from place to place. Another reason we should encourage people to buy foods from organic farms is that they don’t use harmful pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones. They are not only harmful to the plants and animals they are being used on but to those consuming the goods and the animals around these farms. Local organic farms often offer more nutrient foods and have happier and healthier livestock. This is because their livestock live more natural lives. They are free range, not over crowded, and fed the foods they should be fed. This is just one possible solution for industrial farming. An alternative solution exists and would require us to adapt to a different form of eating, such as consuming foods not coming from an animal like meats and dairy. A trending diet such as veganism is an animal-free diet that focuses on foods organically grown. A vegan diet may consist of foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and beans. Offerings us many medical and ecological benefits. By consuming fewer animals we would be reducing the need for industrial farms that carry livestock. We would reduce our water consumption (needed to feed the animals), contamination of consumable water (contamination due to manure), prevent the prolonged exposure of the sun on farmers, and drastically reduce the risk of eating contaminated food that might affect our bodies way of fighting diseases (due to antibiotic-resistant livestock). This solution is intended as a way to alternatively supplement one’s diet and does not mean to adopt a fully vegan diet. But by consuming more organic plant-based foods we would contribute a smaller ecological footprint since a lot of meat consumption contributes to global warming. NBC reports in a study done by the EAT–Lancet Commission that “if everyone on the planet switched to a diet 50 percent lower in red meat and sugar than the average western diet, and much heavier in fruits and vegetables, about 11 million fewer people would die prematurely every year(Fox)”, leaving us to consider a greener diet.
Industrial farming plays a very large role in today’s farming industry and production process. Most individuals do not realize the lasting effects of industrial farming such as depleting our natural resources, and affecting our health. Along with that, we also do not realize the toll it takes on animals; they are underfed, abused, and live in horrible living conditions. These unethical actions and abusive practices need to be stopped or prevented. Over the years, much research has been done to talk about the risk of cancers and other diseases caused by today’s industrialized farming. Farmers are at high risk of contracting serious diseases such as colon cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, melanoma, and lip cancer. Being exposed to the bacteria from the animals they tend to can cause long term health effects. The bacterias are spreading to humans by animal food, contaminated waste, and even transferred directly from the animals to farmers. Although, researchers have found multiple solutions to industrial farming. This is where organic produce comes in; buying organic produce reduces the likelihood of being exposed to the unhealthy bacterias and antibiotics in animal products. Buying organic produce also reduce the amount of burning fossil fuels, and would also decrease the amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions. Local organic farm animals are also treated better and are raised in a healthy environment without overcrowding. Another great option recommended by researchers is the idea of going vegan or vegetarian. If the world consumed less animal products, there would be less demand for industrial farming and would reduce water consumption and contamination around the world. These are both great options to consider trying. We hope to have helped educate others more on this topic to help prevent issues like industrial farming and its link to deadly cancers and diseases.
Beane Freeman, L. E., DeRoos, A. J., Koutros, S., Blair, A., Ward, M. H., Alavanja, M.,
& Hoppin, J. A. (2012). Poultry and Livestock Exposure and Cancer Risk among
Farmers in the Agricultural Health Study. NCBI. doi:10.1007/s10552-012-9921-1
The associated press. (1992). U.S. sees more risk of cancer in farmer. New York Times.
Fox, Maggie. “HEALTH NEWS Planetary diet: Save the planet and lives by eating less meat, more vegetables.” NBC News, NBC Universal, www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/here-s-what-eat-save-yourself-planet-less-meat-more-n959556. Accessed 26 Apr. 2019.